Source: Alamy 

It comes despite a raft of price hikes across the category since April

Soaring inflation across free-range and organic eggs has left shoppers paying over 70p more than they did in April for some lines.

The traditional big four supermarkets, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose have imposed 17 price hikes of more than 40p since the start of April, with 76 between 15p and 40p and 108 increases in total, shows analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer.

The highest increase was for a dozen Happy Egg Co free-range eggs in Morrisons, which rose by 75p (or 23.1%) to £4.00, followed by a 70p (or 35%) hike in the price of a Clarence Court six-pack to £2.70 in Asda.

The widespread price rises have largely satisfied calls in April by the British Free Range Egg Producers Association for supermarkets to introduce a minimum price hike of 40p per dozen, said the trade body’s CEO Robert Gooch.

But despite these increases, hard-up producers continue to see little benefit from the price hikes. With rampant input cost inflation continuing to threaten the viability of large parts of the sector, Gooch warned producers were still seeing too small a percentage of the increases trickling down to farm level.

BFREPA data supplied by agricultural consultancy ADAS showed the average free range and organic farmgate price had risen by just 9p per dozen eggs from April to September to an average of £1.01, Gooch said.

Retailers “had done what had been asked of them” on retail pricing, he added. But packers – who were also seeing their costs go up – were saying it was “the retailers who are keeping the retail price increase and not passing it down”.

As a result, BFREPA was still warning that producers could go out of business “and we could still see egg shortages by the end of the year”.

A lack of transparency around often onerous egg supply deals meant many producers were contracted to continue production – despite the fact their costs had risen significantly – and were therefore in danger of “slowly going bust”, he warned.

In response to these ongoing challenges, BFREPA has launched an Egg Pledge, designed to unite the sector behind a commitment to “work together for a better, more sustainable future”.

Unveiled today at BREPA’s annual conference in Birmingham, the industry body said it would be “approaching all packers, retailers, food businesses and politicians to ask for their support”.

It was “imperative” farmers could “continue to produce a high quality, high welfare, nutritious and versatile protein for consumers, which is why we’re asking for the public and industry’s support”, Gooch said.

“By signing the pledge, you are showing your support for British free range and organic egg producers and playing a part in ensure they have a sustainable future.”