BFREPA have warned those looking to get into the sector to be cautious of tempting high prices which do not reflect the reality of the price they will receive longer term
Continued expansion in the free-range egg sector would create a significant oversupply and push down prices for farmers, despite retailer pledges to move away from caged production.
And those looking to get into the sector needed to be cautious of high prices offered on variable contracts which do not reflect the reality of the price they will receive longer term.
New producers had told the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) they would not have got into production if they had known the reality, a Cage Free 2025 webinar heard.
It came as BFREPA launched a new costings portal in a move to make costs and prices more transparent for producers.
It allows individual farmers to anonymously compare their egg price with others across the UK.
And BFREPA chief executive Robert Gooch said the data showed most producers were not even breaking even.
He said: “There is a huge range of producer prices in the market, ranging from below the cost of production to good prices to tempt new entrants in to the sector."
Retailers have made commitments to move away from colony cages by 2025 but were likely to use barn eggs as their ‘value’ offering, meaning this switch would not have a big impact on free-range demand.
ADAS Cage Free 2025 report author Jason Gittins said the main conclusion from their report was that free-range costs of production would be above the cost of production for barn eggs, at 13.3p/dozen more than Lion code standard barn eggs.
Mr Gittins said: “Those with a non-cage policy but want a cheap entry egg are more likely to adopt barn eggs."
ADAS estimated, with population growth, 22.9 million cases of free-range eggs would be needed by 2025 and there was likely to be 21.2m cases produced by current stock, leaving little room for expansion.
“Requirements for free-range are more likely to increase if there is a consumer change or if any retailers switch to free-range and organic only policies," said Mr Gittins.
“Rapid expansion in free-range is not required to meet retail pledges.”
He added if expansion was to continue at 5 per cent per year and there was a ‘mismatch’ in supply and demand prices would ‘only go one way’.