Egg Industry Presentations

Peter van Horne Updates the EU Egg Industry

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Dr. Pieter van Horne reviewed EU egg production statistics and costs


Dr. Peter van Horne of the Agriculture Economics Research Institute at the University of Wageningen in Holland updated attendees on the EU situation at the 2014 Egg Industry Center Issues Forum in Indianapolis.

Dr. van Horne is a distinguished poultry economist who serves as Chairman of the World Poultry Science Association Working Group and is the Economic Analyst and advisor to the International Egg Commission.

In his presentation, which is attached, he considers the recent history of the egg production industry in the EU with specific reference to the 2012 cage ban, production costs among major producers in the EU, international trade and his perspective on the European egg industry.


Dr. Hongwei Xin, Endowed Professor, Iowa State University, Director of the EIC welcoming attendees to the 2014 Egg Industry Center Issues Forum

The EU comprises 28 nations which collectively hold a total 375 million hens..

The EU is essentially self-sufficient but with intra-Union transfers. There is considerable variation in annual consumption among member countries of the EU ranging from 182 eggs per capita in the UK to 235 in Hungary. There are also differences in purchasing patterns among countries with a greater demand for cage-free eggs in some nations. In the case of Germany, approximately 20 percent is sold as free-range, 50 percent non-confined (barn) and 10 percent EU-organic.

France has the highest proportion of confined hens with approximately 65 percent of the national flock compared to Germany with less than 5 percent at low density in enriched modules.

In the EU layer farmers average 40,000 hens with only a few producers above 100,000. Most farms are family-owned and independent with farm owners purchasing feed and carrying the risk of escalation in feed cost and a depression in market price.

Enriched cages are used by 75 percent of French egg producers, 30 percent in the UK, 15 percent in Holland, 30 percent in Sweden and 90 percent in Austria. Spain and Italy claim to house 95 percent and 70 percent of their flocks respectively in enriched modules. As noted previously in EGG-CITE, Dr. van Horne cautioned administrators and legislators to allow for a gradual transition from conventional cages to enriched modules or alternative systems.

Reviewers are directed to the slide on the wholesale price of eggs and dried powder expressed in Euros per kg. pertaining in 2010. The values presented are illustrative only with respect to relative differences among countries. For convenience, the values for shell eggs and dried egg powder have been converted to US$ per dozen and US$ per pond as follows:-

Nation US$/dozen US$/lb dried egg  
USA 1.13 3.24  
EU 1.33 3.18  
Ukraine 1.04 3.23  
Argentina 1.04 3.26  
Notes: Includes Tariff 1. Shell eggs
2. Dried egg
€1 = US$1.4
= 30 ¢ per dozen
= 87 ¢ per dozen


Feed is the major determinant of the total cost of production and figures assembled by Dr. van Horne show close similarity in feed prices in the Netherlands and the U.S. with obvious peaks in 2008 and also following the drought of 2012.

With respect to international trade, van Horne noted that there is no world-wide general agreement on free trade and not all nations are signatories to the WTO Agreement. Generally nations operate in accordance with bi-lateral agreements although multilateral pacts such as the TPP are currently under negotiation.

Absent tariffs, USA, Argentina and the Ukraine are competitive with Europe with respect to production costs. The €0.30 per kg (15 US cents/dozen) tariff on imports of shell eggs supports the competitiveness of producers in the EU who would otherwise be at a disadvantage. The position is even more obvious with respect to dried egg which carries an import tariff of €1.37 per kg (45 US cents/ lb.) in order to equalize the wholesale price in comparison to EU product.

Whereas we in the U.S. talk of "free- trade" in which the producer with the lowest cost is awarded the sales, the EU embraces the dubious concept of "fair trade" in which import levies are used to protect domestic producers.

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