The egg trade is starting to scramble its way back up again, after taking more of a tumble than usual straight after Christmas. With wholesale prices as inflated as they were due to the acute shortage of eggs in the run up to the holiday, a sharper correction was always on the cards afterwards.
Wholesale prices fell by up to 45p/doz on colony in early January, and free-range by 20-25p/doz, although very few eggs had been changing hands at such high prices in the preceding weeks.
However, demand has strengthened again helped by the usual round of post-Christmas flock depletions. The Central Egg Agency moved its prices back up in early February on both main sectors, by some 5p/doz on the larger sizes, and that puts them still at the same levels of September-October, which is higher than they had been throughout 2017 up to then.
The CEA’s Andy Crossland said that there was now a “good market out there”.
“Things have certainly tightened up since Christmas. We had the usual mopping up to do post-Christmas, and there’s been a lot of birds that have gone out since, while appetite (for eggs) has returned.
“Now the credit card bills have fallen and people have started going out a bit more. The wholesale foodservice trade was the last piece of the jigsaw to come back, but that’s quite buoyant once more.
“We’re getting back to the stage where there’s little egg on offer again.”
Mr Crossland noted that Pancake Day was just around the corner, so an element of shelf filling could be going on in readiness. Both retail sales and packer-to-packer trade had been good on all egg types.
“We are certainly struggling to find eggs today”.
The market was on its way back up, although he doubted it would reach the levels witnessed before Christmas.
As the weeks went by, more eggs were becoming available across Europe as farmers replenished stocks following the Fipronil affair.
“That may well just keep the lid on UK prices,” he added.