Going to Work on an Egg
It’s over fifty years since the iconic Egg Marketing Board campaign encouraged us to ‘Go To Work On An Egg’, but millions of us still do just that. Created by the author, Fay Weldon, the campaign ran throughout the 50s and 60s and included TV ads with stars, such as Tony Hancock, explaining the benefits of starting the day right.
According to industry data, Britain consumes 12.9 billion eggs per year. That’s 35.4 million eggs per day, or 196 eggs each per year, creating a market worth £984m last year. These eggs are mostly supplied by UK birds, with 38m hens producing 86% of the UK’s egg requirements and just 14% imported in 2017.
Production rising, prices falling
According to the latest egg production figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK egg numbers are rising, up by 2.1% in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 2017, and up by 0.6% compared to the previous quarter this year. This is a long-standing trend, with total production up 2.7% in 2015, 3.5% in 2016 and 4.0% in 2017.
Unfortunately, while production is rising, farm gate prices are going the other way. The average price per dozen was 69.3p, down 0.1% on the same quarter in 2017 and 0.7% on the previous quarter this year. Once again, this reflects a long-term trend, with prices falling 2.4% in 2015, 14% in 2016 and 0.5% in 2017, although 2018 did see a 1.9% rise in prices in the first quarter. Farm gate prices today are around the same as they were a decade ago, and significantly lower than they were at their 2012/13 peak, despite steadily rising costs and wages.
Egg consumption may be rising steadily, at around 5% per year, but consumer habits are changing. Quarter three in 2017 was the first time Britain produced more free-range eggs than eggs from enriched colony systems (caged hens), and they have continued in the majority, accounting for 52% of eggs in quarter three 2018, compared to 45% for colony eggs.
British shoppers are also preferring larger eggs, leaving a glut of small and medium eggs that are struggling to sell, resulting in no price premium for farmers on free range over caged hens.
Robert Gooch, chief executive of the British Free-Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA), says that production is rising much faster than demand. “Production numbers have been increasing by 10 per cent each year whilst consumption has been increasing by just five per cent,” he explained.
His views are echoed by Andy Crossland the Central Egg Agency, who says he is “struggling to find a home for these eggs.”
Keeping your production profitable
With conditions so challenging for egg producers, it is more important than ever to maintain the highest standards of hygiene to ensure you don’t suffer any costly losses through infection or contamination. Kilco, now part of Kersia, have a complete range of DEFRA approved poultry products to help keep your birds clean and healthy, from disinfectants such as HPPA, Kilco Kleen and Virex, to effective pest control products like Permost CS.
Kilco also offers you much more than just products; our expert teams will work with you to create a comprehensive biosecurity plan for your farm that protects your people, your hens and your eggs.
Together we can help you maximise production and minimise costs to help make your operation more competitive in this challenging industry.
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