British egg industry in crisis as production costs soar

Input costs are up 30% on farms
calendar icon 12 April 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

According to the British Egg Information Center (BEIC), British egg farmers are facing unprecedented rises in the cost of producing eggs, leaving many on the brink of bankruptcy with hundreds of farms in real danger of going out of business if returns do not significantly improve.

With British farmers losing money on every egg they produce, which has increased considerably following the invasion of Ukraine, many are choosing to stop producing rather than lose their farms, resulting in falling numbers of hens in the UK, and increasing pressure on supply. The national flock has already declined by around 4 million in the past year.

Feed increases are at the forefront of the surge in costs, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine which has added 25 to 30p per dozen feed costs on top of never-before-seen cost increases right across the supply chain from pullets to energy, and well-reported labour shortages.

“The tidal wave of cost increases will see many family farms, some of which have been producing eggs for generations, going under in a matter of days, unless something is done quickly," said Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council.

According to the BEIC, the increase in input costs required to produce eggs, which is currently up by around 30% on farms, shows no signs of slowing down and the availability of British eggs on supermarket shelves is seriously under threat if these costs are not passed on.

“The situation was unsustainable prior to the terrible war, but feed prices have accelerated dramatically in a way never before seen and farmers cannot absorb these costs and carry on with a viable business," said Joret. "Ten years ago, you might typically have paid £1.35 for 6 medium eggs, which today often cost less than £1 which is a third of the price of a barista coffee. Eggs are one of the most undervalued natural whole foods; packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. They provide the whole family with nutritious meals at a fraction of the cost of some other proteins.”

BEIC research shows that consumers want to be able to buy British eggs, however, the current crisis means that they may not be available in the same numbers if the real costs of production are not recognised in the price people pay for their eggs.

“It is our top priority to keep up the usual supply of British eggs, the majority of which are produced to the world-leading quality and welfare standards set by the Lion Code, which are enjoyed by so many people around the UK every day," Joret concluded. "However, without rapid recognition of the seriousness of the situation, a significant number of British farmers won’t survive to continue to ensure that one of the nation’s favourite home-produced foods is readily available on the table.”

The BEIC has written to the CEOs of the major UK retailers to communicate that unless urgent action is taken in the next two weeks, the normal supply of British eggs to meet consumer demand is under severe threat.

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