During a recent vacation visit Spain the opportunity arose to review eggs in supermarkets and urban produce markets which cater to a high proportion of city residents.
Spain is the 4th largest producer of eggs in the EU, currently with approximately 45 million hens based on egg production as documented in the GAIN Report (SP1538) released on October 28, 2015.
The hen population has fluctuated over the past six years. In 2010, Germany banned conventional cages approximately two years before the EU deadline. This necessitated importation of eggs from Holland and Spain with a resulting rise in the number of hens to 52 million. Following installation of new housing in Germany, demand for imports fell negatively impacting producers in Spain. At the present time there are approximately 1,150 egg farms with an average of 40,000 hens in each facility with 90 percent held in enriched colony modules.
Spain did receive a benefit from the 2015 U.S. outbreak of avian influenza which impacted the breaking industry disproportionately to shell eggs. Between late June and early October, USDA Agricultural Marketing Services issued import licenses for approximately 12 million dozen eggs for breaking, representing approximately one-third of U.S. imports of breaking stock. Given the restoration of flock numbers in 2016 and the consequential collapse in the price of breaking stock, exports to the U.S. have ceased. In 2014, the USDA-FAS estimated a net export of 147,000 metric ton of eggs from Spain representing 204 million dozen.
The downturn in the EU economy has apparently reduced consumption from 239 eggs per capita to 206 in 2013 constituting a 14 percent decline. The net result of decreased exports to the U.S. and European nations together with competition from the Ukraine has produced a crisis with extreme competition among producers and cooperatives for the available market. The combined effect of reduced exports to Germany together with a shortage of capital to replace conventional cages resulted in a reduction in flock size from 51 million in 2010 to 39 million in 2013. Some relief has been gained through developing export markets outside the EU including North Africa. There has been an increase in the production and shipment of egg products to alleviate the over- production of shell eggs.
The following images illustrate packaging at the supermarket level with prices converted to U.S. $ per dozen.
Eggs displayed at the St Joseph Market Barcelona. Price range $1.70 dozen on 30-egg tray upwards
Eggs displayed at the Barcelona El Corte Ingles supermarket. Not refrigerated
Roig Brand 6-pack in plastic with cardboard sleeve incorporating a handle $5.50 dozen
Pazo de Vilane free-range brand in cardboard 6-pack $6.60 dozen
El Corte Ingles private-brand generics in PET carton with sleeve. $3.56 dozen
Coren Free Range 6=pack in fibrer with outer sleeve $4.20 dozen
Finca Arcadia Organic with printed paper overwrap $6.60 dozen
In compliance with EU regulations all eggs packed commercially in Spain are stamped with an inkjet code.