British egg and poultry producers under ‘extreme pressure’

Almost one-quarter of British egg producers are not sure they will still be in business in two years’ time, according to an NFU survey.

The survey of 253 poultry farmers found 24% of egg producers and 15% of chickenmeat producers were either unlikely or unsure if they would still be producing poultry beyond November 2025.

Insufficient returns was cited as the main reason why poultry businesses have not been profitable.

See also: Poultry producers win case for greater bird flu compensation

But the survey also highlighted several other key concerns for both sectors, including the lack of fairness in the supply chain, the risk of avian influenza outbreaks to businesses, high energy prices and being undercut by imports.

Both egg and chickenmeat producers have seen significant increases in production costs over the past two years, including average increases for feed of 31%, 35-41% for electricity and 20-22% for workplace salaries.

Prices at the farm gate are failing to keep up with soaring costs.

In order to better support the production of high-quality British eggs and poultrymeat, the NFU is calling for a range of measures.

These include greater fairness in poultry supply chains, for poultry producers to be included in the Energy Intensive Industries scheme, and for a long-term strategy from government to be set ahead of any future avian flu outbreaks.

NFU poultry board chairman James Mottershead said: “British eggs and poultrymeat are staple parts of so many people’s diets, but the sector is under a huge amount of strain.

“Incredibly volatile production costs and the threat of avian influenza have put producers under extreme pressure.

“The sector urgently needs support, certainty and fairness applied across the supply chain if it is to remain strong in its production of quality, safe, nutritious and sustainably produced poultrymeat and eggs, which we know the vast majority of the British public rely on.”

Bird flu anxiety

The survey highlighted the ongoing threat from avian flu that poultry farmers and their flocks continue to face.

While the number of outbreaks has been minimal this winter compared to previous years, the devastating impact the disease has on farming families is keenly felt across the sector.

Mr Mottershead said the NFU is waiting in anticipation for the government to publish the recommendations from the avian influenza vaccination taskforce “so that informed decisions can be made to protect the national flock”.

The NFUs survey explored the impact of the past two years on poultry production and farmers’ intentions over the next two years. It was carried out between 9-23 November 2023.


The British Poultry Council (BPC) said the stark figures in the NFU survey emphasise the immense pressure on poultry meat supply chains. 

A BPC spokesperson said: “British poultry plays a crucial role in a UK food system that feeds people, tackles inequalities with affordable and nutritious food, and contributes to a liveable climate for all.

“It is time for a conversation about the true cost of a sustainable food system, one that incorporates fairness, security, and overall supply chain resilience.”

A Defra spoksperson said: “We want all farmers to get a fair price for their product. It’s why we have recently launched and concluded reviews into dairy, egg and pig supply chains – with new regulations coming into effect later in 2024 to improve fairness in these sectors.

“Our support for British farming is unwavering, which is why we are continuing to work closely with farmers and growers across the industry so that customers have access to high-quality British products.”

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