Visitors flocked to the first day of the British Pig & Poultry Fair on Tuesday, with standing room only at the ever popular forum programmes.
Kicking off with the outlook for the poultry and egg sector were Chris Hall from Cargill and Tom Willings, formerly of Noble Foods. That was followed up by the pig market outlook featuring Phil Woodhall from Thames Valley Cambac and Meryl Ward of AHDB Pork.
Although the sectors were facing extremely different challenges and opportunities, there were also considerable similarities, with retail price pressure, potential oversupply, and a need for innovation a few of the common themes.
In the egg sector, retailer price wars had slashed the price of six eggs from £1.40 two years ago to just 79p now, said Mr Willings. “At the same time volume sales have grown at an unprecedented rate – but we are bleeding value.” There was still huge opportunity for growth in sales, but he forecast a period of oversupply in the medium term. “I suspect there are tougher times ahead – and I do worry about what will happen when the cost of feed increases.”
As demand increasingly moved away from colony and barn eggs to free-range systems, the industry would have to find a way to structurally change in a measured manner to avoid oversupply, he added. However, on a more positive note, consumer demand for healthy, high protein, convenient food placed eggs and poultry meat in a very strong position.