Egg Producers Unite to Get Fairer Deal

UK - A free-range egg producer has launched a web site and campaign to unite struggling farmers into action against 'greedy' packers.
calendar icon 14 July 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

An Essex free range egg producer is calling on fellow egg producers to come together and fight the cartel of UK packers who have driven the price farmers are paid for their eggs below the cost of production.

Ian Chisholm, who took on Tesco in a fight over packaging in 2009 says that while supermarkets are charging more than £3.00 per dozen in some cases, egg producers are being paid just 75p to 90p per dozen, forcing farmers to operate at losses equating to millions of pounds per week.

Mr Chisholm said: "UK egg production is now being sent the same way as the pig and dairy industry as the prices egg farmers are paid show no resemblance to the recent price increases consumers are being asked to pay for the eggs on the supermarket shelves. Feed prices and production costs have increased, and farmers are being forced to operate at a huge loss, while the packers make huge profits. Unless we fight back more and more egg farmers will be forced into bankruptcy."

He believes that by working as one, the UK's egg producers can change the way the industry operates and negotiate fairer deals for farmers.

He added: "We urgently need the Government and the Competition Commission to take another look at the way the egg industry operates. There is just not enough competition and some of the packers have a stranglehold on egg production which is forcing payment to egg producers down lower than the cost of actually producing those eggs. Unless something is done now for the egg industry it may be too late and this once proud industry will start to collapse."

This week, Mr Chisholm has launched Egg Producers Together, an online portal aimed at uniting UK egg farmers to campaign for fairer prices and raising awareness of farmers' plight.

He explained: "Already we see signs of egg farmers carrying unhealthy levels of debt. Farmers are being forced into signing supply contracts with packing cartels without any guarantee of a minimum egg price. Banks are reluctant to lend on contracts that have no face value so egg producers are forced in to taking unviable finance deals with the cartel of packers supplying to the main supermarkets."

This is one area Mr Chisholm insists must change for the future of the industry.

He said: "Our aim is to ensure that egg farmers must have a minimum price they will be paid written into their contracts. A contract with no price has no value at the bank."

Mr Chisholm believes that only by egg producers working together to fight unfair terms and low prices and insist that supermarkets and packers pay a fair price that reflects the price consumers are being asked to pay.

He concluded: "I have written an open letter to all producers to contact me to discuss direct action. The Egg Producers Together web site is live and I urge other egg producers and members of the public to show their support for egg farmers through a Twitter and Facebook link. The web site gives all producers, packers and supermarkets and anybody within the industry the opportunity to have their say. It has to change, the industry will go the same way as the dairy industry if we do nothing now."

To visit the Egg Producers Together web site, click here.

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