TOTAL EU PRODUCTION of eggs for consumption is expected to grow 2.5% in 2019, according to the European Commission’s spring forecast.

Output grew by 2.2 in 2018 as well, when compared with 2016.

Poland, Spain, the UK and France account for the majority of growth, and are all expected to expand by close to or more than 5%.

Poland leads the charge with an expected 5.6% increase in output, to 565,000t. Of the other major European egg producing countries, Spain is predicted to expand by 5%, the UK by 4.6% and France by 4.0%.

Italy and Germany posted more modest growth of 0.6% and 1% respectively. The latter has been hampered by environmental restrictions slowing expansion.

The Netherlands did not report figures for the forecast.

The report says in 2018 there were 397 million laying hens across the continent, with 50.4% in enriched cage units.

The UK is by far the leader when it comes to birds in free range units at 56.9%. Ireland is the only country that comes close with 43.4% free range.

By contrast Spain keeps 82.3% of its layers in enriched cages and Poland 84.5%.