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EU-compatible hen cages could push up egg prices

The introduction of hen cages conforming to European Union standards at egg farms in Hungary could cause the cost of eggs in the country to rise to as much as HUF 50 compared to their current retail price of HUF 30-42 per egg, the newspapers Nepszabadsag and Napi Gazdasag reported on Tuesday.

Napi Gazdasag said that 90 large egg farms had indicated that they will make the transformation to EU-compatible cages this year, though not by the extended deadline of July 31, while 100 farms will likely discontinue operations rather than make the switch.

The Egg Alliance told the newspaper that 170 smaller farms are in the process of making the conversion to EU-standard chicken cages.

Nepszabadsag wrote that more than 100 of Hungary’s 530 egg farms have said that they have not yet made the switch to the new cages. The newspaper said that the new cages cost HUF 5,000 per chicken, noting that large egg farms in Hungary keep more than 100,000 hens.

The Ministry of Rural Development announced on Friday that Hungary has two months to explain to the European Union why some 109 egg farms in the country had not yet scrapped cages that do not conform to EU standards by the original deadline of December 31, 2011.

The ministry noted that it had offered the egg farms HUF 3bn in grants to help them purchase new cages, though fewer farms had applied for the funding than expected.

In addition to Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and Malta failed to meet the original deadline.