By Jerome Saulet, Commercial Director, Noble Foods Consumer Foods Division
Back on 24th of December we were pleased to learn that the UK government had reached a Brexit trade deal. While the deal secured tariff and quota free access to the EU, we all anticipated there would be a new, economic cost in the form of bureaucracy. Today, this has proven to be a significant disruption to the UK egg market, whether trading with the EU or Northern Ireland.
Fortunately, Noble Foods infrequently exports eggs but like all businesses has still been impacted. These can be summarised in two factors. Firstly, the new export regulations and paperwork has – at best – delayed goods. These regulations are more acceptable to longer life food products such as frozen or ambient goods but are unmanageable for fresh produce such as eggs. Secondly, the deal blocks exports of any ungraded egg. The cumulative effect of both factors is that the UK market now has surplus egg to demand.
Demand has been further undermined by the recent lockdown through the associated closure of many foodservice businesses. Inevitably this has had a deflationary impact on market pricing, whilst the sector is also experiencing a global hike in feed prices.
In the face of these challenges, as an industry, we all need to focus more than ever on cost control and building sustainable value back into our businesses, including better meeting the needs of our consumers through insight led innovation. In the meantime, we have continued to act responsibly by increasing our weekly donations to food banks and supporting our vertically integrated supply chain.
The British egg industry needs stability and we urge the government to work with our EU trading partners to reduce red tape quickly and avoid any further unnecessary costs as a consequence of Brexit.