Michael Wurzer, Managing Director of the Central Association of Austrian poultry industry (ZAG), is worried about the unsatisfactory development of producer prices for eggs.
Austria’s compared to other EU countries early withdrawal from the conventional cages lead to higher costs. In addition, the industry also has to meet increased input prices – in particular rising feed costs, said Wurzer and called for an appropriate price adjustment.
“With the early withdrawal of Austria from the conventional battery cages, the domestic laying hen holdings in 2009 took a bold step into the future. A lot about the management of the new animal-friendly systems had to be learned, because there was little experience in Europe available,” added the ZAG-manager.
Nearly two years after probably the biggest challenge in recent decades the egg industry shows a positive conclusion: “In hindsight we can say that we could phase out the cages thanks to the sale support of the domestic trade, but especially by the confidence that the Austrian consumers have mastered in domestic consumer good quality,” Wurzer said.
Compensate higher feed prices
The manager, however, said that with the increased expectations of customers the associated higher costs for livestock farmers need to be compensated.
It is clear that the since a long time greatly increased feed prices – especially for the now more in demand GM-free animal feed – have to be compensated by higher egg prices for the farmers, Wurzer said.
“Compared to other European farmers our domestic poultry farmers produce on small holdings with relatively high costs for veterinary services and compliance with food law requirements. Austrian production conditions are not comparable with those countries who have direct access to the sea and where large ships that – in terms of cost – the most important raw materials for animal feed can be obtained at relatively favourable costs,” he said.
Very high production standards also required a corresponding price. The local consumers should also be aware of this, Wurzer emphasized.