NFU calls for Defra investigation into the egg supply chain

Phil Ashton Boston

The NFU is calling for an urgent investigation by Defra into whether an “exceptional market conditions” declaration should be made under the Agriculture Act 2020, given the severe disruption which egg producers and UK consumers are experiencing.

A declaration under section 20 of the Act would enable Defra to use its statutory powers to provide much needed support to egg producers whose livelihoods are under threat.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “There are a huge range of issues facing the poultry sector, in particular within the egg supply chain, which have built up over months and which we have been warning of for some time. Energy price inflation and supply chain disruption have added to the worst outbreak in Avian Influenza yet. However, these pressures alone cannot explain empty shelves.

“The NFU raised concerns about the functionality of the supply chain with Defra a number of months ago in the hope of avoiding the situation we have now, with some retailers having to limit UK consumers’ access to eggs. This is surely a prima facie case of severe disturbance to an agricultural market.

“It is critical that Defra acts now to investigate the issues in the egg supply chain so that any declaration under section 20 can be made as soon as possible. Poultry and egg producers must have the confidence they need, working within a fair and transparent supply chain, with fair returns for farmers, so they can do what they do best; meet demand from shoppers for quality British eggs and poultry meat.”

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Notes to editor:

  • Since 2019, the cost of feed raw materials has risen by 90%, as measured by the NFU feed raw material index, which doesn’t include the actual manufacturing cost of feed, which is energy intensive.
  • Egg prices as measured by Defra (average packer to producer prices) have only increased by 35% in comparison