Wholesale prices for both colony and free range have come under pressure over the past couple of months, and this is likely to continue for a while.
The 6-month period from April through to September is expected to see output running at a record level (see chart), in the wake of the latest surge in day old pullet placings which began last October.
At the Central Egg Agency, headline prices for colony have eased back about 5p/doz on the top 3 sizes, and although they remain unchanged for free-range, the underlying picture is a bit different, reports the agency’s Andy Crossland.
“There is plenty of free-range available at the moment,” said Mr Crossland.
Expansion of the sector had certainly been overdone, he said, and trades were being agreed at prices lower than those quoted to make them more competitive.
“Also, it’s been that time of year when you’ve got bank holidays and half terms, so the market tends to be a little bit weaker.”
He had also been hearing of exports of free-range to the continent for processing.
It was a case of “trying to get stuff off the market”. “There’s no real bite to it at the moment, and we could have a month or 2 of it yet.”
By contrast, the colony market seemed to be holding up reasonably well, helped by import prices which were probably a little bit stronger than the UK‘s.
“So we’re able to operate just below the continental levels and keep things moving.
“This time last year we were probably 20p/doz below where we’re now trading on colony, that’s seems to be standing up ok.”
Colony still ahead
A few months ago we reported that total UK free-range production had overhauled intensive for the first time on record. Subsequently, Defra revised its figures and, for now, the 2 sectors are running neck-and-neck (see chart).