There has been a noticeable weakening of UK egg prices in the past month.
Free range wholesale prices have taken a hit on the smaller sizes, while colony has weakened across the board.
Spot prices at the Central Egg Agency have fallen around 15p/dozen on Mediums and 25p/doz on Smalls, while there has been a 15p/doz fall across the top three sizes for colony output.
According to CEA, the colony sector is in reasonable balance but imports have made a return as the Continent recovers from the production downturn caused by Fipronil.
“We’ve been up against a lot of cheaper imports over the last few weeks, and as demand has eased at retail level there has been some surplus colony thrown up,” said the CEA’s Andy Crossland.
Meanwhile the continued expansion of the free-range sector had thrown things temporarily off balance.
“The biggest issue we’ve got at the moment with free range is the amount of mediums and smalls coming on to the market, with lots of new flocks coming through.”
He pointed out that retail demand for free range was now much more focussed on large eggs in many of the retailers including the discounters.
“This time last year it was pretty weak on the free range front, but the Fipronil scandal broke and it helped the market tremendously for several months.”
This time around the summer could prove more of a challenge, until the usual lift in the autumn: “It could be a difficult few weeks,” he said.
For the moment, the latest chick placings indicate that growth in the overall laying flock will level off for at least one month as we move into the autumn (see the chart opposite page), albeit levelling off at a record level.
When the next set of production figures is released from Defra, this is likely to show a further expansion of the free range sector and a retreat by colony.