AFTER taking a more positive tone in March, the wider egg trade has settled back to marking time, while the economy slowly navigates the roadmap out of lockdown.
Wholesale prices for free-range have slipped back to where they were at the start of the year, losing an average of some 5p/doz across the board.
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Colony prices have fallen further over the past month, by up to 10p/doz for the two middle sizes, but remain well above Jan/Feb levels following the sharp recovery in March when the schools reopened.
“This lockdown doesn’t appear to have done us any favours,” said the CEA’s Andy Crossland, suggesting there were signs that supplies of free-range eggs had also edged up.
“It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Lion free range is trading quite well packer-to-packer through to retail, but the non-Lion free-range is a bit more of a struggle.
“I think they’re still waiting for hospitality to open, so there’s a bit of that in surplus at the moment.
“The schools going back has fizzled out, and we’ve had Easter, which was a bit of a non-event really, a very quiet period with nothing much open.
“In a traditional year, you’d usually expect a busy time from Easter and onward, but not right now.
“When the hotels reopen in May, that will probably trigger a better response and a bit more appetite,” he predicted, “but May seems a long way away at the moment.”
Size of flock
Another encouraging factor as we move into summer is the prospect of a fall in the laying flock’s size after May.
Predictions based on day-old pullet placings suggest a decline of more than a million in the number of birds in-lay by July.