Poultry World: Will a quarter of British egg producers quit the sector?


Results from a survey of British egg and poultry meat producers has shown widespread concerns about the future. Nearly a quarter of eggs producers and 15% of broiler farmers said they might leave the industry in the next 2 years.

The main reason given in the survey, carried out by the National Farmers Union, was poor returns due to a significant rise in the cost of production, and the ongoing concern about the risk of avian influenza.

While the last few months have only seen very few cases of avian influenza in commercial flocks, with just 4 since October 2023, the egg sector has been rocked by the news that bird flu has been confirmed in a 48,000 free-range layer flock near Hutton Cranswick, East Yorkshire.

“Support, certainty and fairness”

Producers are also upset about the lack of fairness in the supply chain and being undercut by imports from countries such as Ukraine and Poland.

The NFU is also calling for greater fairness in poultry supply chains, for producers to be included in the Energy Intensive Industries Scheme and for a long-term strategy from government to be set ahead of any future outbreaks of avian influenza.

James Mottershead, NFU poultry board chair, said the sector urgently needed support, certainty and fairness applied across the whole supply chain if it was to remain strong in its production of quality, safe and nutritious meat and eggs.

Investments halted

Both the egg and poultry meat sectors are holding back on investing in their businesses, according to the survey, which found that 31% of broiler producers and 33% of laying hen farmers had no plans to invest in the next 2 years.

Those that have invested have done so by supporting staff wages, training and improved equipment. Rising input costs, which have seen energy prices rise by 46% and feed prices by 28%, have been major sources of concern. Costs have also risen for labour and pullets.

Broiler producers

Compared to 2 years ago, when the last survey was undertaken, nearly a third of broiler producers now have a lower level of production, due to reduced stocking density or a change in production (65%) with some switching to meet the Better Chicken Commitment requirements, and insufficient returns (42%).

More than 70% of broiler producer respondents said they had a written and signed contract in place, with the rest either having a written but unsigned contract, a verbal contract or no contract at all.


Almost a quarter of producers have a lower level of production due to insufficient returns (76%). Nearly two-thirds had a written and signed contact but just over a fifth had no contract in place.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist

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