Like many backyarders and smallholders who keep chickens my laying flock produces more eggs than are needed by my family. Equally like many backyarders and smallholders I sell the surplus produce ‘off gate’. I suspect that also akin to everyone I don’t sell with profit necessarily in mind but perhaps unlike some others I do sell with the intention of at least covering the cost of production.
I don’t live in the middle of nowhere (although we are little isolated) and the shops and supermarkets of Oswestry can be found within a 10minute drive. I mention this because if you are going to sell eggs ‘off gate’ you do need to know a little about your local competition just as you would if you were selling any product. The road we live on can get quite busy for a rural location however it’s more of a rat run between two villages as opposed to being a popular commuter or tourist route. I mention this point because it’s important to know what passing trade you might attract.
Both of these factors will help you arrive at a suitable price point for your eggs, there’s no point in being more expensive than an equivalent product sold in the local shop or supermarket unless you have some other unique selling point, and by the same measure if you don’t have the passing trade then you might need to keep your prices down in order to attract some custom. This might sound like I’m teaching granny to suck eggs but it’s come about from my recent observations as I’ve driven around the county and over the border into Wales.
We are all aware that more and more people are keeping chickens and as such I’ve seen a proliferation of signs for “Free Range Eggs” appearing at the ends of driveways. This is all good stuff in my opinion and helps keep the cash in the pockets of you and I and out of the coffers of the corporations, but some people really do need to wake up a little when it comes to pricing. They might as well remove the word ‘Range’ and just have a sign saying “Free Eggs”!
In the last set of statistics I saw commercial egg packers were paying producers 99.7p per dozen of free range eggs, that’s just over 8p an egg. By the time these eggs hit the shelves of the shops and were available to the consumers the price per egg had increased to 30p or £1.80 per ½ dozen.
Looking at this from a backyard or smallholder perspective there is obviously a much shorter supply chain to consider but, and this is the bit that some folks seem to be missing, there is a cost associated with your flock producing eggs. Taking an average laying hen who lays 200 eggs in a year, even if you just look at the basic cost of feed, floor litter and health supplements you’ll be surprised. Today a 25kg sack of feed will cost on average £10. Your hen will eat on average 200g of feed a day so that’s about 3 sacks a year. On average it will need one bale of bedding a year so that’s another £8 plus its likely to need lice dusting, some vitamin drops and worming as a bare minimum, so let’s add another fiver on for that. Back of a fag packet maths this might be but there it is; £43 for one hen to produce 200 eggs which works out at 21.5p per egg – and remember, that’s using the absolute bare minimum costs.
So don’t devalue your hens production by practically giving the eggs away, or thoughtlessly undercut the house down the road who have given their pricing some consideration. Leave loss leaders to the big boys and charge a fair price for a fair product, you won’t lose custom, in fact you might even gain some.