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Northern Ireland facing potential egg shortage

Egg producers from the Ulster Farmers' Union have warned that Northern Ireland is already showing signs of an egg shortage as a result of the EU's Welfare of Laying Hens Directive.

“While we welcome the improvements in welfare, the Directive which placed an overnight ban on traditional hen colonies as of 1st January 2012 has meant that in order to stay in business many egg producers had to invest heavily in the new enriched colonies,” said UFU Poultry Chairman John McLenaghan.

“Unfortunately, the cost of complying with the Directive and the way in which it was implemented forced an estimated 10% to 15% of our producers out of business. This has resulted in a tightening of egg supplies and a rise in the price of eggs. This current rise in price is a reflection of this change in the market and it should be noted that producers have been operating below the cost of production for a number of years. In the past 30 years, the increase in price paid to producers has come no where near matching the rate of inflation nor the steady rise of input costs. The UFU is encouraging all players in the supply chain to be strong sellers to help recoup the losses of recent years.

“Supermarkets must recognise that if they want to maintain their supply base of quality eggs produced to the highest welfare standards in the world they must be prepared to pay a fair price. The potential for an egg shortage is not unique to Northern Ireland following the implementation of the EU directive and many countries are in short supply of shelled eggs. Ultimately, this means that supermarkets, the catering industry, and processors will find it increasingly difficult to look elsewhere to source the high quality, welfare friendly eggs consumers’ demand.

“The reality is that egg producers need a sustained period of strong market prices to offset the huge investment that they have made to comply with the EU’s Directive on welfare standards. However, despite the rise in price it is important that eggs remain a staple food of our diet as they can still offer consumers a relatively inexpensive, healthy, and nutritious meal proving they are still excellent value for money.”

Source: Ulster Farmers Union

Editor WorldPoultry

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