Pink boxes containing white eggs on the shelves of Lidl supermarkets and chicken farmers have seen red. In the middle of summer, Yves-Marie Beaudet, president of the National Committee for the Promotion of Eggs (CNPO) and breeder in Landéhen, in the Côtes-d’Armor, picked up his phone to express his anger. to Michel Biero, Executive Purchasing and Marketing Director of Lidl France.
“Lidl communicates very well about its link with French producers. However, we have been alerted to the presence of boxes of eggs from Germany in some stores of the brand. The distributor has undertaken to stop its imports », explains Mr. Beaudet. This warning shot illustrates a certain tension in the sector.
French poultry houses were, it is true, badly shaken by the avian flu. To the point that in 2022, after massive slaughter, production has faltered. The CNPO estimates that it fell by 8%, to 14.4 billion eggs. It therefore lacked enough to satisfy the appetite of the French. Especially since in times of inflation, even if it has not escaped the surge in labels, this animal protein prides itself on unparalleled price competitiveness.
In 2022, imports have soared
A real breath of fresh air for imports. They jumped by 29% in 2022. According to declarations made to customs, 40% of the volume comes from Poland. But Mr. Beaudet wonders: “Goods travel. We know that Ukrainian eggs are sold in Poland. » At the start of 2023, the eggs continued to cross borders, even as the bird flu virus was still raging in France. In the Côtes-d’Armor department alone, a million hens passed from life to death between January and February.
However, for the past few months, French henhouses have been filling up. With the increase in the volume of spawning, prices started to fall again. The price of the egg has turned on the wing… On the wholesale markets, it was trading at 18 euros per hundred in the first days of spring, when the egg hunt reached its climax. On Wednesday August 16, the price fell below the 12 euro mark. If the level remains high, the reflux exceeds 30%. There is therefore no question for breeders of letting imported eggs accentuate the decline.
Nothing like it yet on supermarket shelves, even if a downward trend seems to be beginning. Consumers have paid, on average, 18% more, over the first six months of the year, to afford their box of eggs, according to the CNPO. As for purchase volumes, they further increased by 1.6% over this period. The Frenchman has adopted the motto: you can’t make an omelette without breaking the bank…