Egg production in the EU is expected to be 2.5 percent lower in 2012 as a result of the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, according to Duncan Priestner, vice chairman of the UK National Farmers Union poultry board, in his report to the National Farmers Union Council.
In Spain in particular, production is expected to contract by 20 percent. Priestner said that pressure levied in the wake of the January deadline brought a reduction in the number of birds in non-compliant cages. However, he estimated that there are still some 40 million hens across Europe in non-compliant cages.
As a result, the wholesale rates for eggs have increased substantially, ending 18 months of “horrendous” prices. However, Priestner noted that demand had slackened in recent weeks and the free-range sector continued to have a “tough time,” picking up only small gains on the back of the wholesale market.