British free range and organic egg farmers are considering a 'mass exodus' from the industry because supermarkets are refusing to help cover spiralling feed and energy costs.

Scores of farms are reportedly considering stopping production at the end of their current flock, rather than keep paying rising feed, fuel and labour costs from static returns.

But despite warnings and pleas for help from the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, the UK’s biggest supermarkets have yet to increase the price of free range and organic eggs to a level where farms can break even.

BFREPA surveyed egg producers last week and found that 51% of farmers are seriously considering stopping production until the price they are paid improves. A further 18% said they will make their decisions at the end of their current flock. More than 70% said they would leave egg production within a year if a price rise wasn’t forthcoming.

Robert Gooch, CEO of BFREPA, said: “There are clear and obvious cost increases being heaped upon farmers, and retailers simply aren’t sufficiently adjusting the retail price. Any increases being made are too little and too slow. They are suffocating businesses. his is nothing more than supermarkets putting cheap food marketing tactics above the needs of the primary producer.

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“We’ve asked every major retailer to increase the price of free range eggs by at least 40p per dozen – organic eggs need an increase closer to 80p per dozen," said Mr Gooch. "Only two retailers had the decency to acknowledge our request, and not one has done enough to meet the additional costs of producing eggs during this crisis.

“Many of my members are losing money on every egg laid, and our data shows that even those who are making a small profit do not see a long-term future. The appetite for eggs from the public is extraordinary, but I’m afraid we will see shortages of British free range and organic eggs on the shelves before long.”

BFREPA has approached Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose to ask for better farmgate prices – all without success. The organisation has now called a Crisis Summit at the Pig and Poultry Fair on May 10, and invited representatives from each retailer to attend to discuss how to resolve the issue.

The national free range and organic flock stands at about 27.7m, producing more than 8.5billion eggs a year.