Egg farmers have warned they could be forced to stop production after claiming the country’s biggest supermarkets are “suffocating businesses.”
Farmers have previously called on supermarkets to raise the price of eggs as producers struggle with significant feed and energy cost increases.
Now, the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) has said farmers may be forced to quit the industry en masse.
A survey of egg producers by the trade association last week found that 51 per cent of farmers were seriously mulling ending production until the price they are paid is increased.
What’s more, another 18 per cent said they would make a decision at the end of their current flock.
More than 70 per cent said they would be forced to leave egg production within a year if there was no price rise.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Retailers have long-standing, established relationships with their suppliers and know how important maintaining these are for their customers and businesses.
“Supermarkets source most of their food from the UK and know they need to pay a sustainable price to farmers but are constrained by how much additional cost they can pass onto consumers in this very difficult market.”
Production costs have rocketed in recent months, with feeding hens now 50 per cent more expensive than six months ago and energy prices leaping 40 per cent.
Any increases made by retailers were “too little and too slow,” according to Robert Gooch, CEO of BFREPA, who accused grocers of “suffocating businesses.”
He added: “This is nothing more than supermarkets putting cheap food marketing tactics above the needs of the primary producer.
The BFREPA has asked every major retailer to hike the price of free range eggs by at least 40 per dozen and around a hike of around 80p per dozen for organic eggs.
Gooch said: “Many of my members are losing money on every egg laid, and our data shows that even those who are making a small profit do not see a long-term future. The appetite for eggs from the public is extraordinary, but I’m afraid we will see shortages of British free range and organic eggs on the shelves before long.”