• GVP $267.6 million est. Up 3% yoy.
  • NSW share of the national flock was 28% in 2020.
  • Free-range egg retail prices have decreased on average by 1.7% annually over last the five years.
Egg production in NSW is anticipated to increase in 2020-21 following on from a 4% increase in flock size in 2019-20 over the previous year. Production has been encouraged by the increased demand from households for low-cost quality proteins as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The competitive nature of the industry is highlighted by the relatively muted average farmgate price increases observed through the drought years, while at the same time, the share of higher cost, free range eggs as a proportion of total egg sales also increased.

New measures announced to fight tomorrow’s drought today

The NSW Government announced a combined $64 million in the 2021-22 NSW Budget over four years for the ‘Future Ready Regions’ strategy that will help farmers and regional communities grow, thrive and plan for the future.

“It feels like just yesterday the entire state was in drought with towns running out of water, crops failing to reach harvest and farmers making heartbreaking decisions between feeding livestock or feeding their families,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.

“These are the lessons we cannot afford to forget and will be enshrined in the Future Ready Regions strategy to make sure our communities are ready when the next drought hits.

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Salmonella Enteritidis NSW Response Team

The Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) NSW Response team played a key role at strategic points of the food supply chain, managing the disease and ensuring food safety. NSW DPI is working closely with local and interstate agencies, affected producers and peak industry bodies as part of the ongoing management of SE. NSW DPI has increased surveillance and monitoring at poultry facilities and we are working with industry to raise biosecurity standards and limit the spread.
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Egg production is anticipated to have increased in 2020-21 following on from an increase in the flock size in 2019-20 to 4.8 million layers, a 4% increase on the previous year. 18 25 Following an oversupply of eggs in 2017-18 and a subsequent reduction in supply during 2018-19, production has continued to incrementality increase. New South Wales share of national production has remained relatively stable with 28.3% of the national flock. 18

Free-range production systems continue to grow nationally, representing 50% of eggs sold through major supermarket chains by volume in 2019-20, an increase from a 47% share in 2018-19, continuing the longer-term trend. Reflecting the higher value of free-range eggs, the category represented 57% of egg sales for the major grocery chains in 2019-20. 42

Feed costs typically represent 60-70% of layer production costs depending in part on the type of production system used. 58 The extended drought resulted in elevated feed costs, however with the eastern Australia drought conditions receding in 2020 prices for feed grains, a key input to layer diets, averaged 17% lower in 2020-21 than the 2019-20 production year. 82

NSW commercial egg production q

  • Egg production
  • Flock size
Source: ABS (various)

Production systems' share of major grocery chain sales

  • Cage Eggs
  • Free Range Eggs
  • Barn-laid Eggs
  • Specialty Eggs
Source: AUSTRALIAN EGGS (various)
Egg production has been characterized by periods of over or under supply of eggs in the domestic industry, a consequence of several factors. Oversupply in some market segments has occurred as consumer demand for free-range eggs has increased, more free-range producers have entered the market while at the same time cage egg and barn-laid production did not adjust at the equivalent rate, resulting in a recent peak in production in 2017/18. Subsequently, egg prices fell and combined with drought induced cost increases resulted in a net reduction in production in 2018-19. Production has since recovered in response to increased demand from consumers arising from the Covid-19 pandemic through the second half of 2019-20 and 2020-21.


Eggs provide an important and low-cost animal protein source for consumers. Following the previous dip in farm gate prices between 2017 to 2019, average national farm gate prices increased incrementally in 2019-20 to average $2.41/dozen. Farm gate prices forecast for 2021-22 are expected to be comparable with 2020-21. 6 Over the ten-year period to the forecast 2021-22 year, the farm-gate price of eggs have experienced a compound annual growth rate of 0.9%. Given the trend during this period of increased free-range production as a share of total production, with its substantially increased costs of production, the increase in average farm-gate price for eggs is especially subdued and reflects the very competitive nature of the industry.

At the retail level average prices for free-range sourced eggs decreased by an average compound rate of 1.7% over the five years to 2019-20. In contrast, the average retail price for cage eggs increased 0.5% annually (compound growth rate) over the same period. 42 This decrease in free-range prices reflects increased supply from continued investment in free-range production systems and related technologies to improve system productivity.

National average farmgate price and grocery retail prices for eggs by type

  • Average farm gate
  • Retail Cage
  • Retail Free Range
  • Retail Barn-Laid
Source: ABARES (2021) , AUSTRALIAN EGGS (various)

Years marked ‘f’ are forecast annual estimates.


Eggs on a trolley
Trade of egg products remains small in relation to overall production with exports valued at $0.9 million in 2020-21, with Singapore the principal market. This is a marked decrease from recent years with the value of exports 39% lower than the already lowered 2019-20 exports.

Exports have been especially impacted by the disease status of both trade partners and Australian poultry flocks. The value of egg exports over the two years from 2017-18 and 2018-19 averaged $10 million annually, including record exports to the Philippines which was a consequence of an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (AI) in that country in 2017. In 2020, Australian egg exports were impacted by an outbreak of AI amongst several Australian commercial flocks. However, subsequent efforts by industry and state and federal government agencies have resulted in Australia officially regaining freedom from AI in 2021, an important step in re-establishing exports of poultry products including eggs. 69

Imports of egg products including egg powder, egg pulp and preserved or cooked eggs were valued at $7.1 million in 2020-21. Major sources of egg product imports included United Kingdom, China and United States. 128

Macroeconomic Conditions

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a substantial decrease in demand from the food services sector and a switch to home consumption. Demand for eggs, both cage eggs and free-range, was sustained reflecting the demand for low-cost protein sources by households during the pandemic. 13 Eggs remain a key low-cost source of protein especially given the elevated beef and sheep meat prices experienced during 2020-21.

Alongside the ongoing trend for free-range produced eggs, marketing of eggs by major grocery chains is resulting in an increasing share of private label egg sales. In 2015-16 the share of private label eggs sold through the major grocery chains was 33% in volume terms, by 2019-20 private label sales had increased to 52% share of sale volumes. 43 Further, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend towards the purchasing of private label groceries. 142

Longer term, an Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry being developed by the Australian Government with states and territories in 2021 to inform animal welfare policies including for layer housing systems 70 , has the potential to influencing egg farmers investments in farm infrastructure.

Cracked egg in a bowl


Demand for eggs is anticipated to remain positive as Covid-19 pandemic restrictions lift enabling increased food-service demand, and as eggs remain a competitive alternate protein source in the context of elevated meat prices. 137 Preferences for higher value free-range and organic egg products are expected to support the industry’s revenue growth. 137