Be that neigh­bour

The Poultry Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - By Gineke Mons

Best wishes to ev­ery­one in the New Year. Dutch layer farm­ers will need them. The Dutch union of poul­try pro­duc­ers, the NVP, pre­dicts that 2016 is likely to be a dif­fi­cult year for layer farms. Pro­duc­tion in the United States is in­creas­ing, so much so that the im­port of Euro­pean eggs will ex­pire. In the mean­time, Euro­pean egg pro­duc­tion is on the rise, re­sult­ing in a sup­ply that will ex­ceed de­mand. This ex­pected trend is al­ready in­flu­enc­ing the cur­rent egg prices, ac­cord­ing to the NVP.

The poul­try pro­duc­ers’ union bases its ex­pec­ta­tions on EU fig­ures on eggs, which were re­cently pre­sented by the Euro­pean Union. Af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing highly path­o­genic AI out­breaks in the United States this year, pro­duc­tion in the US is quickly pick­ing up again. Flocks of lay­ers that have not been culled are be­ing moulted, and re­pop­u­la­tion is in full swing. As from 1 Jan­uary 2016, the Amer­i­cans will no longer need to im­port eggs from Europe to sup­ple­ment their own pro­duc­tion, which fell by 15 per­cent due to AI. The lu­cra­tive stream of Euro­pean eggs cross­ing the ocean will come to a halt. This sum­mer, the Dutch – for the first time ever – were al­lowed to ex­port the equiv­a­lent of 100 mil­lion eggs, equat­ing to 1 per­cent of our to­tal pro­duc­tion, which was very wel­come dur­ing our low sea­son.

More­over, the EU es­ti­mates that Euro­pean egg pro­duc­tion will rise by 2,4 per­cent in 2015, and in­crease with a fur­ther 1,8 per­cent in 2016. For the com­ing year this will lead to a rel­a­tively high sup­ply com­pared to the de­mand.

“This is al­ready hav­ing a de­press­ing ef­fect on the egg prices,” the NVP re­ports.

In the short term, the sea­sonal Christ­mas peak will re­sult in a tem­po­rary up­swing in egg prices, but af­ter that there will be more than enough eggs on the Euro­pean mar­ket.

Too many free-range eggs

In the Nether­lands, the pro­duc­tion of free-range eggs (pro­duced in­doors) is also ex­ceed­ing the de­mand. From the side of the egg pro­cess­ing in­dus­try, the de­mand for Frei­land eggs – from lay­ers with free range ac­cess to the out­doors – is grow­ing at the ex­pense of the in­door free-range egg seg­ment. Es­pe­cially in North­ern Europe, con­sumers are more in­ter­ested in and con­cerned with an­i­mal wel­fare. As op­posed to South­ern Europe, where there’s more ac­cep­tance for eggs that are pro­duced in (Eu-ac­cepted) en­riched cages.

Ac­cord­ing to the poul­try pro­duc­ers’ union, the prob­lem is that there is no Euro­pean sup­ply chain man­age­ment. Poul­try pro­duc­ers should unite and reg­u­late the sup­ply, the NVP says.

“But as long as poul­try farm­ers do not (yet) want to unite, be­cause they lack con­fi­dence in the pos­i­tive ef­fects of such mea­sures, pro­duc­tion in the de­vel­op­ing egg and poul­try meat pro­duc­ing coun­tries like Poland, Ukraine and Turkey will keep in­creas­ing, while the Euro­pean de­mand barely grows,” analy­ses NVP. “Ev­ery­one is wait­ing for ‘the neigh­bour’ to take that first step, be­fore they them­selves are will­ing to take ac­tion.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion hopes that in 2016 the re­al­i­sa­tion will arise that ev­ery farmer can be this neigh­bour, and that the Euro­pean sup­ply can be reg­u­lated a lit­tle more, for the ben­e­fit of ev­ery­one’s egg price.

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