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Eggs

Volume 887: debated on Tuesday 25 February 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate his Department has made of the average rise in the cost of production of eggs in the United Kingdom during the past year.

Average changes in the costs of producing individual commodities cannot be assessed reliably. Much depends upon the system of production used and/or the individual producer's response to changing costs and any opportunity to make savings.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate his Department has made of the average retail price of standard eggs necessary to cover the average United Kingdom costs of production over the past three months; and what the average retail price of standard eggs was during the same period.

The cost of producing eggs varies widely, depending on the system of production used and the scale of the enterprise. Margins between producer and retail prices also vary; in part this depends upon the methods of marketing. An estimate of the kind requested cannot therefore be made on a meaningful basis. The average retail price of standard white eggs in the United Kingdom was 38½p per dozen in November 1974, 39½p per dozen in December 1974, and 34p per dozen in January 1975. The price for the week ending 19th February was 34p per dozen.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate from figures available to him the number of cases of eggs imported from France, and the EEC as a whole, respectively, in each of the past 12 months.

The figures are as follows:

SHELL EGGS—IMPORTS
('000 boxes)
1974FranceEEC
January74101
February4766
March (5 weeks)3849
April4248
May109138
June (5 weeks)3842
July2934
August6068
September (5 weeks)3951
October2739
November2036
December (5 weeks)3035
Total553707

Source: Trade and Navigation Accounts.

Official figures for January 1975 are not yet available but it is provisionally estimated that the figures for that month are 60,000 and 67,000 boxes, respectively.

SHELL EGGS
('000 boxes)

Total available supplies

Total of imports from all sources

Imports expressed as a percentage of total supplies

1974—
October-December8,8371101·24
1973—
October-December8,5101742·04
1974—
January-March9,1302242·45
April-June9,1992372·58
July-September8,8571541·74

Source: Trade and Navigation Accounts.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with representatives of the French Government about their refusal to allow British eggs to be imported into France; what reasons the French have given for this refusal; whether he is satisfied that these reasons are justified; and if he will take steps designed to overcome the ban.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in talks with the French Government relating to their ban on the importation of English eggs.

France prohibits the import of poultry or poultry products from countries which do not forbid the use of certain substances—including arsenical compounds—for the feeding and rearing of poultry. Since the incorporation of arsenical compounds in feed for laying and table poultry is permitted in Great Britain, imports of our eggs and poultry meat into France are at present prohibited. The French attitude is based on an assessment of the public health risks, with which our advisers do not agree. We have for some time been urging at Community level that appropriate provision to permit the use of arsenical feed additives should be included in the relevant EEC directives. It is hoped to reach conclusions at a meeting in April.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total number of cases of eggs imported into the United Kingdom from all sources as a percentage of total United Kingdom egg sales in the last three-month period for which figures are available and compare this with comparable figures for the previous four quarters.

No official figures are yet available for January 1975 but it is estimated that imports in that month represented about 2 per cent. of total supplies and were some 40 per cent. below the level of January 1974.