The egg market is poised in a delicate balance as it starts the run up to the Christmas in the traditionally stronger time of the year.
Demand is getting firmer after the summer lull, but rising egg supplies are set to intensify the pressure between now and the new year.
Wholesale prices have generally remained steady through August to October, and this month corresponds to a brief dip in bird numbers, based on projections of day-old pullet placings.
It had been a steady couple of weeks to the end of September, reported the Central Egg Agency.
“I think we’ve seen a bit of an uplift now, as month-end retails are a little bit better, and there’s less coming on to the market,” said CEA’s Andy Crossland.
However, there was still “an ongoing problem” with the amount of medium free range eggs available, he said, a symptom of the number of new free range flocks coming into lay.
Some of these surplus eggs were likely being ‘cascaded’ on to the colony market in an effort to clear them, but “the colony side of things is reasonably tidy now”.
The ride could start to get a bit bumpier, though, from next month. November is expected to see a sharp climb in the laying flock as a consequence of the jump in day-old placings back in June, when they rose 44% year-on-year, an increase of a million birds in one month.
December should bring a pause, followed by another jump of nearly 20% year-on-year in January.
Barring any strategic early flock depletions by the big packers, the three months from October to January are likely to see an increase in flock size of around 1.2m birds (see chart opposite).
By the new year, the laying flock could pass through the 38m birds threshold for the first time.