Ongoing soaring production costs are putting the Welsh poultry sector under immense pressure. Poultry farmers have been facing skyrocketing energy and feed costs for months now, as well as increases in other input costs including fuel, labour, and packaging, which are all adding to the overall costs of production on farm. Worryingly, this escalating situation is causing many to consider their future in the industry.
So as not to create panic in our consumers and the disappointing decision by some retailers to import barn eggs not produced to the same assurance standards as Welsh eggs, we want to assure shoppers, that amidst these pressures, Welsh producers will continue to do everything they can to produce quality, affordable eggs and poultry meat, which we know is valued hugely by the public.
However, all businesses have their input bills to pay and loan interest charges to meet and poultry and egg producers must have the confidence they need, working within a fair and transparent supply chain, so they can do what they do best; meet the demand from shoppers for quality Welsh eggs and poultry meat.
There are a range of issues currently facing the poultry sector; rising costs continue to challenge producers, leaving them not always able to recover their costs from packers and retailers in the supply chain.
Combined with increased demand as we approach Christmas, the market is tight and producer confidence is low.
Constrained supply and higher demand mean availability is lower than normal in some stores for some retailers. Unfortunately, Avian Influenza has added to these problems, in some cases directly because of flocks lost as part of the government’s disease control strategy, but also indirectly as the risk of AI has fuelled a lack of confidence in investment in free-range production and tightened the supply base further.
NFU Cymru, working closely with our colleagues at the NFU, is exploring all avenues it can to help resolve this situation, including conversations with retailers and calling on the government both in Cardiff and Westminster to look in detail at the current supply chain issues.
We have asked government at the highest level to investigate the market availability issues and fairness in the supply chain to better understand the role that AI is playing, alongside other market pressures, in the future profile of UK demand and production.
We have also written to Minister Lesley Griffiths asking as a matter of urgency for Welsh Government to use the powers under the Agriculture Act 2020 to investigate whether an exceptional market conditions declaration should be made given the severe disruption which egg producers in Wales and UK consumers are experiencing.