Price reduction another blow to producers

Darrell Stratford from Secret Rocks free-range egg farm.
Darrell Stratford from Secret Rocks free-range egg farm.

Free-range eggs are the latest staple grocery item to undergo a “price drop” at Woolworths, Coles and Aldi supermarkets and while it may be welcome news for consumers the news is not necessarily so good for the producers. 

The cuts follow controversial cuts to milk prices and bread prices, which have had producers voicing serious concerns about profit margins and the future of their industries.

While the supermarkets have promised to absorb the price reduction for free-range eggs at this stage one wonders how long this will last and what will happen next time they are negotiating new contracts with egg producers.

Tumby Bay egg producer Darrell Stratford (pictured) raises another good point that smaller producers like him may also be affected down the track, despite not supplying to the big supermarkets, because they could get cut out of the market.

Many people do take a stand against big business pressure by supporting local producers or choosing to spend more on brands they know pay higher prices to suppliers but others cannot justify spending more when a cheaper equivalent product is available and with so many pressures on household budgets it is not hard to see why.

The image of Mr Stratford amongst his chickens at Secret Rocks shows just how free range his animals are but not all free-range eggs are created equal and if producers are getting less money for their eggs they are going to be under pressure to reconsider stocking densities to get the maximum return for their investment.

While egg production is not a major industry for Eyre Peninsula, the region is home to many primary producers who understand the reality of increasing costs against ever-reducing profit margins.

On a similar topic, it is sad to see the Cummins Milling Company flour mill – another locally-run business using and promoting local produce – has gone into liquidation.

While we do not yet know the reasons why it has gone into liquidation it is perhaps another sign of the times that smaller businesses are finding it harder and harder to compete. 

The stock feed side of the business is still going strong but it is the end of an era for the flour mill, which was established in 1930 by Aubrey Heidenreich and was one of only a few original flour mills operating in rural Australia.