There has been a reduction in the supply of legal eggs available for processing, the British Egg Products Association (BEPA) has warned.

The shortage follows the implementation of the EU ban on conventional barren battery cages, which came into force on 1 January 2012.

It is estimated that around one-quarter of EU cage egg production does not meet the legal requirements, according to BEPA.

Eggs in the EU which do not meet the new legal requirements cannot be marketed outside the country in which they are produced, which has led to a shortage of legally-produced cage eggs across the EU.

BEPA, which represents the UK’s leading egg processors, has said that the European Commission was warned as far back as 2006 that the ban on conventional battery cages could lead to a severe disruption of the EU egg market.

Elwyn Griffiths, chairman, BEPA, said: “Even as late as last year, the Commission was telling us that it expected all EU countries to comply with the ban, although it was obvious to us that this would not be the case. The disruption that we are now seeing in the market could have been avoided if the European Commission had heeded our warnings.”

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