September 3, 2003

 

 

Cost of Organic Eggs in Europe Moves Up


 

Shoppers face a 70p rise in the price of a dozen organic eggs because of new EU rules, producers warned on Sept 1.

 

Regulations due to be phased in from November will ban artificial feed and reduce the density of hens in sheds.

 

Farmers say the changes could force many of them out of business and result in a "major shortage" of organic eggs.

 

Producers are now calling on supermarkets, which buy 90 per cent of the UK's organic free-range eggs, to guarantee a rise in the price they pay to cover the increased production costs.

 

John Widdowson, vice-chairman of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, said: "It is not a case of us being greedy. If we don't get the extra income many producers won't be able to stay in business." The organisation, which has more than 300 members, says the new European Organic Livestock Regulations will push production costs up by around 36p-a-dozen over the next three years. If the rise was passed on to the customers it would result in the supermarket price going up by 25 per cent, or around 70p for 12 eggs, it says.

 

Free-range hens are fed on a vegetarian diet, comprising cereals such as wheat, maize, barley and soya, and supplemented with calcium and vitamins.

 

The new rules will mean replacing synthetic amino acids used to offset deficiencies in the hen's vegetarian diet with a natural alternative.