Several North African countries are gearing up production and installing EU standard welfare regulations to enable them to export eggs to the European Union.
A presentation held at the International Egg Commission’s conference in London last month illustrated how welfare legislation is changing the global egg market.
Delegates at the London conference of the International Egg Commission (IEC) were told that three North African countries - Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria - were looking to export shell eggs to the EU. The plans were revealed by IEC statistical analyst Professor Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst during a presentation he made on the global impact of animal welfare legislation. And, according to Windhorst, the African states are not the only ones who view the European Union as a potentially lucrative market.
"Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are talking about transforming conventional cage systems into new enriched cages or even into colony nests according to the German system because they want to export shell eggs for consumption from Northern Africa into the European Union. They see that as a very attractive market, and this we should consider, the same as is happening in some South American countries and definitely it's happening at the moment very rapidly in Belarus, in Ukraine and some other countries."
Enriched Turkey eggs
Other shell egg imports could arrive in the European Union from Turkey. During the presentation a Turkish delegate stood up to reveal that his country was investing in new cages. He said that Turkey hoped to be enriched by 2015, opening up the possibility of shell eggs from Turkish producers being shipped to states in the EU.
Impact of welfare legislation
Windhorst's presentation was part of a wider session looking at the impact of welfare legislation around the world. He pointed to the United States, where egg industry representatives and animal rights leaders had agreed a deal for the introduction of enriched cages. Attempts are being made to have this agreement put into law through a bill currently going through the federal government.
He mentioned the row currently taking place in Australia over external stocking densities. The Australian Egg Corporation is facing opposition to its plan for an external stocking rate of 20,000 birds per hectare for free range - ten times the established rate in the United Kingdom.
He also spoke about the European Union, where a ban on conventional cages came into force on January 1 this year, although large numbers of laying birds remain in battery units in breach of the new regulations. The European Commission is currently pursuing further action against 10 member states for breaching the ban.