Egg imports shoot up as supplies remain tight in UK

A surge in egg imports has been seen this year, as domestic egg production has fallen and retailers, processors and the food service sector struggle to meet demand.

Imports of egg products during May increased by 10% compared with the same month last year, while imports of shell eggs almost doubled during the first five months of 2023, according to HMRC figures

Meanwhile, UK production of egg products was down by 11% year on year during the first half of 2023, to total just 33,300t.

See also: Anger as Italian barn eggs hit supermarket shelves again

Tighter supply has been supporting prices in recent months, with the average UK farmgate egg price up 41% on the year to average 134.2p/doz during the second quarter of 2023.

Early signs of recovery 

Despite the import challenge, higher prices have led to some recovery recently in the number of hens on UK farms, according to the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa).

Bfrepa chief executive Robert Gooch said the number of hens on the ground had now recovered to where it was this time last year, before the shortages.

“Producers are now making money after suffering losses for the previous two years and are now coming back into production,” he said.

However, concerns remain for the sector, with feed prices rising and higher avian influenza insurance premiums driving up costs on farm.

Mr Gooch said: “All British retailers had committed to buying British Lion eggs, but Sainsbury’s has been importing Italian barn eggs for a while.

“As far as we know, they are the only retailer importing and the rest [of imports] are going into processing and catering.”

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