As supermarkets vow to phase out caged hen eggs, latest data shows shoppers are already switching to higher welfare eggs.
Volume sales of organic eggs have soared 13.9% over the past year (Kantar: 52 w/e 17 July 2016), while free-range egg volumes are up 11%. In contrast, volume sales of caged hen eggs have fallen 1.3%, and barn egg sales are down 20.1%.
Value sales on caged and barn eggs have fallen even more dramatically - by 9% and 28% respectively - while value sales for organic eggs are up by 7% and free-range up by 3%.
The gap between value and volume performance lend weight to producer concerns about a supermarket price war on eggs, and data shows there have been some big price cuts across free-range and caged eggs over the past year.
Average prices for 10 large caged hen eggs are down 15% year on year in Tesco, Asda and Morrisons [Brand View 52 w/e 2 August 2016], with all three supermarkets reducing the price for 10 Big and Fresh large eggs from £2 to £1.50. Packs of six mixed-weight caged hen eggs are on average 3% cheaper than a year ago, having been reduced from 70p to 60p in Asda, and from 75p to 70p in Morrisons.
Meanwhile, the average price for a six-pack of free-range eggs is down 6% in the big four and Waitrose over the same period, falling from £1.54 to £1.45.
Asda has rolled back the price of six Happy Egg Co medium free-range eggs from £ 1.75 to £1, and its own-label free-range eggs by 4p to 85p. Sainsbury’s has taken 15p off the price of six own-label free-range eggs, taking them to £1, with Waitrose selling six free-range eggs for 65p, down from 90p a year ago.
The mults are also selling larger free-range packs for less, with average prices for 12 free-range eggs down 6%, from £2.07 to £1.96. Asda has slashed 30p from 12 own-label large free-range eggs, now £1.95, while Waitrose has knocked a whopping £1.12 off 12 of its free-range eggs to £2.43.
Prices for barn eggs have remained relatively static over the past year, with Sainsbury’s and Asda still selling six own-label mixed-weight barn eggs for 70p and 85p respectively; Tesco is still selling six Eggs for Soldiers barn eggs for £1.29.
According to the British Egg Industry Council, caged hen eggs still account for the bulk of production in the UK (51%), but only 44% of retail sales. In contrast, free-range eggs account for 47% of production but 53% of retail sales. Barn eggs - where hens are kept inside but have the freedom to move freely inside the house - account for a tiny percentage of the market - just 2% of production and 3% of retail sales
Lidl and Asda announced last week they would phase out caged hen eggs from 2025, following similar commitments by Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Iceland. All the major supermarkets are now cage-free, or have committed to switching.