November 25, 2020

1.3 Understanding the EU egg sector

There are approximately 28.000 egg producers in the EU, and the majority are private family owned companies.  There are also, approximately two hundred major packing stations (wholesalers), egg traders and approximately 100 egg processors. These are mainly private family owned companies of which the larger ones operate with a limited liability structure.  The egg industry is volume and cost price driven.

The latest industry information can be viewed here

The general structure of the EU egg sector is …

The EU has been more than self-sufficient in consumption eggs. A surplus of 2.0 % or 142.000 mtons (equivalent of 2.3 billion eggs) is exported to 3rd countries. Source: EU Commission (CIRCA).   However, this is likely to change in 2012 as the egg surplus is reduced as a result of the change from conventional cages to enriched cages from the beginning of the year.

France leads the EU league table in terms of shell egg production, followed by Italy and Spain with the UK in 6th place.

Among EU member states, the Netherlands produces 40 per cent of all exported liquid egg products, of which Germany imports the greatest volume. Although a smaller volume, the Dutch are also the Union’s leading exporters of dried egg products, and the UK is the top importer.

It is interesting to review the context of EU vs  global laying hen numbers and consumption:-

5400 Mio laying hens worldwide

1.500 Mio. China

420 Mio. EU

280 Mio. USA

160 Mio. Russia

29,5 Mio UK

2,1 Mio. Ireland

Egg consumption per person / year

Mexico      350

Japan        330

China         320

France        250

Austria       230

France        229

Germany   203

UK              187

The Netherlands    185

Spain        182

Ireland       170

India            43

Source: PVE indicators 2009

From 1st January 2012 egg production in conventional cages was forbidden. Only enriched cages are  allowed from that date. – Italië 211 With the arrival of the deadline for the EU ban on un-enriched cages for laying hens, EU eggs producers have made huge efforts to convert to the new systems, across EU it is estimated they have invested over 5 billion euros.

The sector generally agrees that the four main challenges for the EU egg market are:

  • the relative values of the Euro and US dollar;
  • energy and feed prices,
  • EU directives and legislation;
  • pressure from governments on retailers to keep food prices low during the global recession.