Sales of eggs in the EU have risen over 9% in the past year. Along with the rise in demand, disease has continued to disrupt the supply chain and cause stock shortages, resulting in soaring prices.
Industry analysts at Mintec point primarily to outbreaks of avian influenza in the EU as a cause of the rise.
Outbreaks in Sweden, Italy and Hungary – all major producers - among other places forced authorities to take national measures prohibiting the export and movement of poultry.
Egg prices have subsequently risen by 16% since November 2016, with shortages expected in early 2017. Production forecasts in mainland EU have fallen by 8% for the first quarter of 2017.
A Mintec spokesperson told FoodNavigator: “Outbreaks of bird flu influence the entire market, even if specific areas are unaffected. Restrictive measures limiting the movement of live birds often mean farms will not be able to get new birds in to replenish the laying numbers, despite there being no outbreak within the farm itself.”
The French Minister of Agriculture noted that the producer price of eggs had risen 20% in France in one year, and 14% over the past five years.
Throughout 2016, he said imports of eggs had risen 7%, whilst exports had dropped 1.7%.
Greatest demand for eggs since the war
November 2016 saw the steepest increase in egg sales in UK since the end of wartime rationing in the 1950s as many consumers are turning to eggs as an alternative source of protein.
According to Kantar Wordpanel, sales had increased 3.9% in UK by October 2016 – equivalent to around 204 million more eggs than in 2015.
An increase in public concern for the sustainability of the meat industry, particularly cattle, has also helped lift the popularity of vegetarian diets which rely largely on dairy as a protein source.
With endorsements from celebrities such as Jamie Oliver, who encouraged “trading your steak for a couple of eggs” and continued calls by activists and political bodies for environmental taxes on meat, demand for eggs is likely to continue rising.