THE EGG TRADE is yet to feel any substantial benefit from the latest easing of restrictions.

The opening up of the hospitality sector on 17 May saw colony prices ease off the floor a little, by around 5p a dozen across the board. 

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However, free-range prices remained at historical lows for another month (see chart).

According to the Central Egg Agency, the downside at the moment was the retail sector.

“It’s not over-busy, and we are being offered quite a bit of free-range,” said the CEA’s Andy Crossland.

“Certainly, we’re oversupplied at the moment for the demand we need. 

May, June July don’t tend to be big egg selling months anyway, and moving egg packer to packer at the moment is very difficult.

“We are seeing even first quality eggs ending up at the processors.”

He adds there is no real mechanism now for getting free-range birds off the market, unlike the colony sector in the past. 

“When it was a colony-based market, the big colony producers tended to be the packers, and they would take sheds out, and the market would stabilise. 

“But when we’re dealing with contract production over hundreds of individuals, it’s very difficult to get birds out early, so it just compounds the problem.  

“We’ve still got a month or two of oversupply, but one would hope it stabilises and retail sales pick up towards the end of August and into September.”

That said, projections based on day-old pullet placings suggest that although the overall laying flock is currently running at a relatively high level, bird numbers should start heading downwards during the summer and maintain a lower level into the autumn by about a million birds.