Defra launches review into unfair practices in the egg supply chain

The government has launched a review to increase fairness in the UK egg supply chain
The government has launched a review to increase fairness in the UK egg supply chain

A review focused on putting an end to unfair practices in the egg supply chain has been launched today by the government.

The review will seek input from egg sector groups on issues such as transparency, clarity of contractual terms and conditions, and data from the supply chain.

It follows a series of challenges experienced by the egg sector, including increased energy and feed costs, which have raised questions about the fairness of the supply chain.

Many farms have seen energy bills increase by tens of thousands of pounds while feed costs have risen by 50% or more.

Transport, labour and the cost of pullets have all gone up too, leaving producers struggling to make a profit, or in the worst cases, ceasing production altogether.

Defra said creating fairer supply chains would help to ensure that producers could operate with "greater confidence" while "protecting consumers’ access to high-welfare British eggs".

It follows reviews into fairness in the pork and dairy supply chains, with a further review into the horticulture supply chain planned later this year.

Announcing the latest review today (31 October), Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey said egg producers should be paid a fair price for their produce.

“At the Farm to Fork summit in May, the government pledged to support the farmers by undertaking a review into the egg sector to ensure fairness moving forward.

"I would now encourage all stakeholders from across the industry to take part in this review to ensure their voices are heard.”

British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) has been calling for a review of egg supply agreements for producers for some time.

The body's CEO, Robert Gooch, said he welcomes the consultation: “It is needed to provide further stability for the sector and to ensure that there is no repeat of egg shortages in the future."

The government's review will focus on understanding how the contractual arrangements within the sector currently function.

It will also explore whether there is the need for further legislation to oversee the relationship between producers and buyers.

The views of egg producers, packers, processors, retailers and other stakeholders involved in the egg supply chain will be considered as part of the review, which will run until 22 December.

Earlier this year, Defra outlined detail on regulations aiming to ensure supply contracts in the dairy sector are fair and transparent, with farmers being paid a fair price for their produce.

It has also committed to introducing similar regulations for the pork sector, including written contracts and regulations to collect and share more supply chain data to reduce ambiguity in the sector.