Shoppers face soaring egg prices as producers scramble to avoid collapse

Shoppers are braced for a steep rise in the price of eggs and cucumbers as industry chiefs warned that producers face collapse amid spiralling costs.

Free range egg farmers urged supermarkets to immediately increase the price of a dozen eggs by 40p to avert “a catastrophe in the sector”. Supermarkets generally charge about £1.80 for a dozen free-range eggs.

Meanwhile, the price of growing a cucumber in the UK is on course to triple as producers grapple with sky-high fertiliser prices and steeper costs for carbon dioxide, which is used to package products as well as to help vegetables.

The British Growers Association said that the price of producing a cucumber in the UK was on course to hit 75p, compared to 25p last year and 50p currently.

A significant number of free range egg farmers are losing money on every egg laid by one of their hens, the British Free Range Egg Producers Association said. 

The British Egg Industry Council said costs for egg farmers had risen 30pc since the start of the year, with higher feed costs alone for chickens meaning it was costing farmers another 30p for a dozen eggs. 

Andrew Joret, chairman of the council, said: “The situation was unsustainable prior to the terrible war, but feed prices have accelerated dramatically in a way never before seen and farmers cannot absorb these costs and carry on with a viable business.  

“Ten years ago, you might typically have paid £1.35 for six medium eggs, which today often cost less than £1. That is a third of the price of a barista coffee.”

Mr Joret said this threatened a wave of collapses among smaller egg producers, which could “go under in a matter of days unless something is done quickly”. 

“Without rapid recognition of the seriousness of the situation, a significant number of producers won’t survive to continue to ensure that one of the nation’s favourite home-produced foods is readily available on the table,” he added.

While the cost of growing a cucumber has hit a record high, such a sharp increase has not been passed on to shoppers who are still able to buy them for as little as 43p in supermarkets. 

Jack Ward, chief executive of British Growers Association, said: “We are now in an unprecedented situation where the cost increases have far outstripped a grower’s ability to do anything about them.” 

The Lea Valley Growers Association said 90pc of its members had not planted sweet pepper and cucumber crops in January because of the higher costs, risking gaps on shelves over the summer when imports usually decline.

Lee Stiles of the Lea Valley Growers Association, said: “There’s definitely going to be a lack of British produce in the supermarkets. Whether there’s a lack of produce overall depends on where and how far away the retailers are prepared to source it from.”

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