Free-range eggs price cuts hurt local producers

Major supermarkets are smashing free-range egg prices but smaller producers may not be getting a fair crack.

Secret Rocks free-range egg producer Darrell Stratford said while the price drop might be good for consumers it posed a risk for the future of small-scale free-range farms like his. 

Mr Stratford runs 1500 free-range hens and supplies eggs to the Tumby Bay IGA and Drakes Foodland in Port Lincoln as well as several corner stores and cafes. 

He said he had concerns about the ramifications for small free-range producers with Woolworths and Coles dropping their prices by as much as 79 cents per dozen. 

“People like us small producers are going to get cut out of the market.”

Mr Stratford said it could mean the supermarket giants could take over the free-range market resulting in small-scale producers losing their market share.

Coles and Woolworths branded free-range eggs have been reduced to $3.80 per dozen for large eggs and $4.20 for extra-large.

“I'm not even going to try and match that,” Mr Stratford said.

The free-range farm at Tumby Bay sells extra-large free-range eggs from $5 per dozen however Mr Stratford raised his price two weeks ago because he was told his eggs were too cheap.

“So I thought I'd put it up by 20 cents... and a week later they say everyone else is putting their prices down.”

He compared the supermarket’s recent price drop of eggs and bread to the crisis that hit dairy farmers in 2011 when milk was sold for $1 per litre. 

“As we've seen with the milk war, now they're doing the bread and the eggs.”

He said it was an unfortunate drive in consumer demand for cheaper household staples that would drive people away from local producers and smaller stores. 

“All they (supermarkets) want is for people to come to those stores and they'll get everything, so soon there'll be no corner stores because people won't be going there to get milk, bread, eggs or anything.”

Mr Stratford said he hoped to also educate consumers about their buying power in order to support local producers and businesses.

“Hopefully people still support any of us small local free range egg producers so they still go to the cafes, the corner stores, the delis and still buy the local eggs,” Mr Stratford said.