Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Eggs prices rise as cage farmers embark on $200 mln upgrade

Eggs prices rise as cage farmers embark on $200 mln upgrade to meet welfare code

By Suze Metherell

May 15 (BusinessDesk) – The cost of battery farmed eggs in New Zealand is on the rise as farmers begin converting to new welfare code compliant cages, a change estimated to cost the industry as much as $200 million.

Egg prices have risen 5.5 percent in the past year, according to Statistics New Zealand, an increase that the Egg Producers Federation (EPF) says is in part driven by changes made under the 2012 Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Act, which requires hens to be housed in larger, ‘colony’ cages. The government has estimated the changes will drive up egg prices by 10 percent to 14 percent and the EPF says it will cost its members $150 million to $200 million.

“It’s a sizeable sum of money across a relatively limited number of players and our understanding is the majority of current cage farmers will move to colony,” Michael Brooks, executive director of EPF told BusinessDesk. There are currently 118 cage egg farms across New Zealand, making up about 83 percent of the egg market and the changes mean a “fundamental restructuring” of the industry, he said.

The legislated shift to colony cages gives hens 750 square centimetres of space each, up from the current minimum of 550 sq cm, and more humane touches such as a scratching pad, perches and space for nesting.

Farmers say in addition to the cost of new equipment and rehousing their hens, colony cages were also less efficient than current cages and take up more space.

“There’s no way around the fact that colony is a more expensive method of producing eggs than cage,” said Hamish Sutherland, general manager at Farmer Browns, which has begun to shift to the new cages. “As colony gets a bit more volume in it and it becomes more mainstream we might see that premium over cage come back a bit.”

Supermarkets take 50 percent of total eggs produced, with the rest going to industrial food manufacturers, cafes and bakeries. In supermarkets cage eggs still make up 75 percent of sales, as consumers seek out the cheapest option, he said.

“Wellingtonians might be happy to pay $18 for eggs benedict, but in Tokoroa it’s fried eggs and bacon on toast for 10 bucks - they don’t give a toss if its free range, they just want a big feed before they’re out cutting down the pine trees,” Sutherland said

Over the past three months, a dozen cage eggs on average cost $3.67, while a dozen colony laid eggs cost $4.67, and free range eggs were on average $7.20, he said, citing industry data.

The shift to colony cages is staggered, with 40 percent of the industry required to change over by 2018. But with the average cycle of a laying hen about 18 months it is a tight timeframe for many farmers.

For some farmers the change won’t be worth it and EPF’s Brooks expects about 8 percent of egg farmers to shut down operations once the 2022 deadline rolls around.

“While there might be a few less it will still be a very competitive industry and while there’s people going out there are other people coming in,” Brooks said.

Across the Tasman supermarket chain Woolworths, which owns Countdown in New Zealand, has vowed to rid its shelves of cage eggs by 2018, as well as no longer using them as ingredients in its own branded products. Rival grocery chain, Coles, has also adopted a cage-free policy for its own branded eggs but still stocks the cheaper alternative.

Another element pushing up the price of eggs was gains in the cost of feed which makes up about 65 percent to 75 percent of the cost of an egg, Brooks said. Over the last five years the price of New Zealand feed wheat has climbed about 50 percent, with the most recent price at $430 per tonne.

There had been some export pick up for New Zealand eggs, as Australian exporters were impacted by disease, markets like Papua New Guinea had opened up “a little bit for New Zealand,” Brooks said.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Future Brighter Money: RBNZ Releases New Bank Note Designs

New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year. More>>

ALSO:

Commerce: Supermarket Inquiry Finds No Breaches By Countdown

The Commerce Commission inquiry into anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown supermarkets, alleged by former Labour Party MP Shane Jones, has found nothing to warrant prosecution, although it warns supermarkets to take care in the way they communicate... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Flags ‘Challenge’ To Budget Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning next month’s half yearly fiscal and economic update from the Treasury may not forecast a budget surplus, saying that returning the government’s accounts to surplus in 2015 will be “a challenge”, given the decline in commodity prices and weak global inflation. More>>

ALSO:

March 2015: Netflix To Launch In Australia And New Zealand

World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese (Is Up): Dairy Product Prices Fall To Five-Year Low

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction to the lowest level in more than five years, led by declines in rennet casein and skim milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Australians Scoring Trade Points Against Us With The Chinese

It hasn’t been a great year for Trade Minister Tim Groser... To top it off, Australia has just signed a FTA with China that has far better provisions on dairy exports than what New Zealand currently enjoys in our own FTA with China. More>>

ALSO:

Iwi & Local Consultation: Oil And Gas Block Offer 2015 Begins

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges today announced the start of the Block Offer 2015 process for awarding oil and gas exploration permits. More>>

Industrial Action: Stats NZ Throwing Public Money Away Duplicating Data

The Public Service Association (PSA) says Statistics NZ are throwing money away by collecting the same data twice for official statistics such as the Consumer Price Index... As part of the ongoing industrial action, field interviewers who are PSA members are continuing to collect data, but are not sending it through to Statistics NZ. More>>

ALSO:

Other Stats:

Space: Rosetta's 'Philae' Makes Historic First Landing On A Comet

After more than a decade traveling through space, a robotic lander built by the European Space Agency has made the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news