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We face a repeat of 2017, as avian influenza sweeps through Europe’s wild bird population and onto farms. While free range producers have remained free of infections, some are trapped within the restriction zones battling to get movement licenses.
A housing order looks inevitable, and yet again, we will have to face the implications of the EU 16 week free range status rule. In 2017 producers were left hanging on a cliff edge while the industry tinkered with solutions, which presented itself in the form of over stickers and shelf signs. We need to prepare the solution should it be needed as I recall that retailers were not over keen on the over sticker solution.
Amidst all this, we also need to remember Salmonella is a serious and growing threat; DEFRA’s interpretations of the rules meant that the latest producer to test positive from a boot swab had no option than to cull after a further egg test was refused.
As regions go into tiers of lockdown, it will be interesting to see how they will play into the market conditions of eggs moving towards peak season.
AI is on our doorsteps again, having confirmed cases in Mute Swans in the Utrecht region of the Netherlands. The Government in the Netherlands has now put in place a housing order. The Chief Vets from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have raised the alert level for AI from low to medium.
There is now a substantial risk of AI, and producers should look seriously at insurance cover. I know some producers look to play the market between AI and Salmonella cover, swapping between the two depending on the risk factors. Both are a serious risk to an egg producer’s livelihood, and I strongly recommend that producers take action to offset both these risks. Insurance cover can take two weeks to quote, so holding back to see how close it gets to your farm is a dangerous decision.
We have seen producer prices rising, albeit a lot slower than we would have liked. Input prices are rising faster and threatening to undermine and even overtake the producer price rises.
Every £5 rise in the feed price requires !p/doz on the producer price. The feed price rose £20/tonne during the year to September 1st, but on writing, feed rose by £10 during September alone. Producer prices need to reflect costs, but they also need to respond to circumstances faster. Delays in implementing increases are not helping producers manage the input rises.
Although the market stuttered a bit during August/September, in line with every other August, I don’t see so many downsides – yet! I am sure that the pandemic will create an evolving door of contradictory lockdown measures, which will, in turn, have a direct effect on consumption.