THE UK government has announced a review into the fairness of the egg supply chain following a food security summit hosted by prime minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street.

Leaders in the egg sector have been asking for a review for over a year amid soaring input costs and inadequate farmgate returns.

See also: Farmgate prices improve, but market yet to recover

Profitability has been squeezed to the extent that the UK’s laying hen flock fell dramatically from an estimated 36 million birds in April last year to 32.2 million last month.

And while Defra’s latest figures suggest farmgate prices are improving, this is yet to translate to a recovery in the national flock, meaning supply issues are likely for some time.

The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa) welcomed the development.

‘Welcome development’

Chief executive Robert Gooch said: “The announcement that the government will review fairness in the egg supply chain is a welcome development and one that BFREPA has been asking for over the past year.

“It is a necessary step. Free-range producers have been trapped in a boom-and-bust cycle for years, primarily caused by unfair contracts, which leaves their businesses carrying a huge amount of risk.

“The crisis seen in the sector over the past 12 months, as costs of production rocketed, but prices paid to farmers stagnated, demonstrated why this intervention is needed.

“BFREPA will be ready to play an active role in the review when it begins and hopes that the outcome is a fairer, more sustainable supply chain where consumers can choose a high-quality British product at a price which allows farmers to have the confidence to continue producing eggs.”