There are signs that growing numbers of British egg producers are clearing out spent hens but not restocking. "The UK is getting short of English eggs," said a trader. While there would normally be a small dip in output at this time of year, "it's at an all-time low and we're looking everywhere," said one egg packer. One indicator of this is in packer to producer prices, which rose 1p a dozen between June and July, according to MAFF. Year on year comparisons for packing station throughput need to take into account the fact that volumes last year were high because of an overstocked market, and cannot be considered as a reliable baseline for comparison. Encouragingly for British producers, however, household consumption of shell eggs was up 2% against a 4% drop in total UK usage. For now, the strength of the pound is still sufficient to pull in continental eggs for catering and foodservice buyers. But although the wholesale markets in both Germany and France are very quiet, "continental processors are buying like fury because they know that the back end of the year is going to be very tight indeed". The sheer scale of these operations may be part of the reason why markets have firmed in recent weeks ­ by up to 5-6p a dozen, according to one trader. {{PROVISIONS }}