Producers may be forced to export their eggs to markets “where higher returns are being paid” because they are not getting the prices they need, the Irish Farmers’ Association has warned today (Tuesday, February 21).

Nigel Sweetnam, chair of the IFA’s national poultry committee, said it was “deeply disappointing” that egg producers had been unable to secure the 2c/egg that they need to keep their businesses viable.

“In October, protests were held by IFA members and egg producers, demanding that retailers pass back more money through the supply chain to farmers.

“While discount retailers have responded positively following the protests, the same cannot be said for some other retailers, who have failed to meet the producers’ demands,” Sweetnam said.

According to the IFA, egg producers currently receive an average of 0.7c/egg.

Price of eggs on shelves

Sweetnam said: “This is unacceptable and threatens the livelihoods of egg producers across the country.

“In a rising global market it’s shameful that producers have to continue to work at a loss.

“We urge the remaining retailers and packers to take immediate action to remedy this situation and fulfil their responsibility to the farmers who supply their products.”

According to the IFA, the price of eggs on supermarket shelves has gone up “substantially” but the percentage of the price paid to producers remains “abysmal”.

The association said that the producers want “a full 2c/egg” at the farm gate and that payments are also processed “within 30 days of collection of eggs from the farm”.

Sweetnam said: “Farmers are not willing to wait any longer and are currently exploring export markets to sell their eggs where higher returns are being paid.

“It’s regrettable that Irish farmers should have to consider such actions given the short supply of egg within the Irish market but financially they are left with no alternative. 

“After what has become abundantly clear in the UK egg market and the shortage they face due to inaction, Irish farmers are not prepared to face the same outcome,” Nigel Sweetnam concluded.

The president of the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) today warned that egg production in the UK had fallen to its lowest level in nine years.

Minette Batters said there there were nearly a billion less eggs produced in 2022 in the UK compared to 2019.