Egg producers are warning of shortages in free-range and organic products unless retailers pay a higher premium for their eggs.
The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) said this week that British free range and organic egg farmers are considering a mass exodus from the industry after major supermarkets refused to help them cover spiralling feed and energy costs.
The cost of feeding hens has risen 50% in recent months and energy prices are up 40%, according to BFREPA. Spending on fuel has grown by 30%, while labour and packaging also costs more than it did six months ago.
BFREPA is calling on every major retailer to increase the price of free range eggs by at least 40p per dozen and organic eggs by closer to 80p per dozen, however it said that any increases currently being made are too little and too slow.
“There are clear and obvious cost increases being heaped upon farmers, and retailers simply aren’t sufficiently adjusting the retail price,” said Robert Gooch, CEO of BFREPA. “They are suffocating businesses,” Gooch added.
Many foodservice businesses have committed to source 100% free range shell eggs, however the BFREPA suggested the major supermarkets are the supply chain participants who can make a difference to producers given their buying power.
BFREPA surveyed egg producers last week and found that 51% of farmers are seriously considering stopping production until the price they are paid improves, a decision which could remove hundreds of millions of eggs from retail shelves every year. A further 18% said they will make their decisions at the end of their current flock. More than 70% said they would leave egg production within a year if a price rise wasn’t forthcoming.