One of the South West’s largest egg businesses has ceased trading, leaving its contracted producers searching for a home for their eggs in a slow market.
Blackdown Hills Westcountry Eggs said it had stopped trading on Thursday morning because of tough trading conditions, and had informed its 17 farmer suppliers.
A spokeswoman for the company told Poultry World the business was up for sale and the firm was taking professional advice on possible next steps.
Blackdown Hills Westcountry Eggs produces and packs eggs for supermarkets, wholesalers, farm shops and restaurants.
The business is headquartered near Chard, close to the Somerset/Devon border, with 17 farms suppling the pack house on contract. Eggs are marketed under its own brand as well as under retailers’ colours.
The business has been built up over the past 14 years by Ken and Deb Cottey, who built their first hen house in 2004.
Summer is traditionally a time in which the egg market is in the doldrums as consumers take holidays, and rapid expansion of the free-range sector has seen many warn of a potential oversupply situation.
This time last year prices were supported by the fipronil crisis, which saw hundreds of Dutch farms taken out of production.
Mark Williams, British Egg Industry Council chief executive, expressed his sympathy to those caught up in the situation, and said that the BEIC team had been assisting producers by putting them in touch with alternative packers – all the producers are members of the Lion Scheme.
“We have been in touch with producers and offering reassurance and I hope that all will be able to register with other packers.”
David George, NFU South West regional communications officer, said the union’s Call First advisors were on hand to provide help to members looking at new packer contracts.
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