Wholesale egg prices have soared to new record levels during September.

 The move into the stronger autumn market at the end of the school holidays has finally combined with the ongoing contraction of the laying flock, to produce a scarcity of eggs across the industry.

See also: The challenges behind reaching net zero poultry production

At the Central Egg Agency, board prices jumped by 25p/doz on Large and Medium eggs since early August, for both free range and colony. 

Poultry Network’s index of wholesale prices for Large shows the two sectors continuing to move in tandem, about 5p apart (see chart).

Andy Crossland at the Central Egg Agency described the market as “extremely short”.  

“It’s tight out there and across Europe as well.” 

Flock down

He said that with bird numbers down, surplus supplies into the wholesale trade were way down.

In the retail sector, he believed that some price increases were now in the pipeline. 

October will see several accounts renegotiated, with new deals struck between packers and their retail customers.

“Hopefully, retail returns are going to increase, so that returns going back to producers are going to improve as well.”

Laying hen flock

Meanwhile, the UK’s laying flock continues to decrease. 

August saw another drop in day-old pullet placings, by 620,000 compared with the same month last year. 

It means the UK laying flock is set to decline well into the New Year, intensifying the egg shortages already being felt (see chart).

Avian influenza may exacerbate that trend, too, given the number of cases already recorded early in the Autumn. 

Overall, in the 12 months to August, total UK pullet placings have fallen by 5.2 million compared with the same period a year earlier. 

This brings the rolling 12-month total down to 34.1 million, the lowest figure since 2013.