The egg processing sector is growing strongly, at the expense of retail shell egg and catering sales. Very little of the processed volumes come from alternative systems ­ about 4% last year by industry estimates. Under current WTO arrangements, minimum access quotas for shell eggs allow 180,000 tonnes of eggs into the EU at half tariff, but market access is top of the agenda for WTO negotiations. While the production costs of eggs in the US are just over half that of their European competitors, the current 13.6p/dozen tariff and an estimated 15p/dozen transport costs rule US shell eggs out of the equation for EU processors at present. But the impact of the EU Laying Hen Directive on European egg producers could well change that. Costings on the required enriched cages' demanded by the directive suggest UK egg producers face a 13% rise in their input costs ­ enough to put them at a disadvantage with US eggs. {{PROVISIONS }}