UK egg producers displayed a surge of confidence in October when pullet placings soared to 4.2 million for the month.

This was a total not seen in any month since October 2020, and was up by 800,000 day-old chicks compared with October last year.

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Although October tends to be one of the higher months of the year, as it is counted as a ‘five week month’ under Defra’s recording system, the weekly average of 840,000 is still the highest for over two years.

These extra pullets mean that, along with the expansion already in the pipeline, the laying flock should add an extra 1.2 miilion birds by March next year.

This comes on top of the 2.2m birds already in the flock since its low point reached in March this year, and taking it back to around the level of June 2022.

Market

None of this expansion has taken the impetus out of the market, reports the Central Egg Agency.

“The market is quite strong with not a great deal being offered,” said the CEA’s Andy Crossland.

Wholesale colony prices gained about 10p/doz on the middle sizes over the past month, but free range are already so high that there is little scope for further increases that remain worthwhile for buyers.

Tight

“Things are pretty tight at the moment, and would expect that to be maintained for the next few weeks.

“Retail sales have been very good, and the way Christmas falls, it will probably go right through until the weekend before.

“We are also seeing slightly fewer imports; their market seems to have firmed as well,” said Mr Crossland.

“Everything that gets offered, we seem to find a home for pretty quickly, but it’s not in big lots.”

Supply

He said that packers were less willing to buy what they could off the market to support accounts.

“After what we’ve gone through in the last couple of years, they will supply what they have got rather than go into the market and buy expensive eggs.

He expected the strong market to carry through into the New Year.

“There will probably be a bit of a tidy-up in January for a couple of weeks, but normally things are quite strong up to Easter.”