State’s egg farmers feeling the pinch

Zach RelphCountryman
Egg producer Joe Sacca, pictured at his Forrestdale farm, says egg farmers are struggling to break even.
Camera IconEgg producer Joe Sacca, pictured at his Forrestdale farm, says egg farmers are struggling to break even. Credit: Sharon Smith

Commercial laying farms are cracking under pressure amid an egg shortage, according to a WA supplier who says high feed costs and low egg prices are scrambling the industry.

Perth egg baron Joe Sacca told Countryman the State’s egg producers were battling to break even under feed costs as high as $550/tonne on the back of the Eastern States drought.

Mr Sacca said the major supermarkets’ pricing war was driving prices down, and compared the egg sector’s situation to the dairy industry’s turmoil amid the global dairy oversupply in 2016.

“It could push a lot of small farmers out of the industry, similar to what did happen in the milk industry,” he said.

“I’m paying between $500/tonne to $550/tonne for feed, compared to last October when I was paying about $400/tonne — it’s hard to break even.”

Egg farmers aired grievances at a Commercial Egg Producers Association of WA event in Perth last month, attended by Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies.

Producers also raised concern that supermarkets’ egg shelves Statewide, including at Woolworths, had been noticeably bare.

It comes amid a tightening egg supply nationwide in the wake of a salmonella outbreak in the Eastern States earlier this year.

A Woolworths spokesman attributed the supermarket’s egg shortage to drought and high input costs affecting egg supply in WA and other States.

“We’re monitoring the situation closely with our egg suppliers and working hard to ensure our customers have continued access to high quality eggs at affordable prices,” he said.

In a statement to Countryman, Aldi also noted the drought had knocked the egg supply chain.

Mr Sacca has 100,000 laying hens producing up to 6000 dozen eggs weekly at his operation, Forrestdale Farm Fresh Eggs.

The egg farmer sells to select IGA stores, receiving about $2.65 per dozen for caged and cage-free eggs.

Mr Sacca said if the major supermarkets increased egg prices, it was likely smaller wholesalers would follow, in turn benefiting the industry.

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