AS SCOTLAND enters the first phase of easing its lockdown restrictions, its egg and poultry producers are in a very healthy position to help the economy recover.

NFU Scotland has stressed that resetting and restarting food production, processing and distribution as the nation emerges from the Covid-19 crisis will provide 'significant opportunities' for Scottish agriculture, and all the union's commodity committees and working groups – combinable crops, livestock, milk, pigs, poultry and specialist crops – have identified key steps and actions needed to secure profitability and sustainability/

For those producing eggs and poultry, the priorities have been identified as the following:

• Ensuring haulage for eggs, poultry and packaging is prioritised;

• Continued retailer support considering the collapse in catering market for eggs and poultry meat;

• Fairer retailer supply chains to support Scottish and UK production longer term;

• Retailers to reconsider cage-free pledges;

• Government assistance should management of the market for class B and small eggs be required (transport, breaking, storage);

• Grant support for investment in egg and poultry farms that improve welfare and efficiency through the likes of automation or building improvements.

Poultry working group chairman Robert Thomson said: “Scotland’s egg and poultry producers have come through the crisis relatively unscathed and are well placed to enter the reset, restart and recovery phase, playing a very positive part in the nation’s response.

“When Covid-19 saw lockdown introduced, the egg and poultry industries both had concerns that the closure of the hospitality and catering sectors would have a huge impact but, thankfully, those fears proved largely to be unfounded.

“We are coming through lockdown with egg sales up by more than 30% and a significant shortage of supplies at all levels, including supermarkets," reported Mr Thomson. "Independent egg producers have also risen to challenge and butchers’ shops, corner stores and farm shops have been kept supplied. That boost in egg sales simply highlights that eggs are great value, are a natural and nutritious food, full of protein and very versatile."

Mr Thomson noted that the chicken market also geared up in response to Covid-19, with plentiful supplies of fresh chicken and poultry meat: "That is a success story and we hope that the Scottish public will continue to seek out Scottish chicken post lockdown. Poultry producers’ biggest concern is imports start coming in again and undercutting the good value of Scottish chicken, which has been produced to the highest standards.

“For both eggs and poultry, we hope supermarkets take a fresh look at their supply chains post-Covid and incorporate more local supplies,” he concluded.