Cracking year for Ballygarvey - but egg prices could rise as supply chains are hit


LONG-established Co Antrim food firm Ballygarvey Eggs has had another cracking trading year, confirming uplifts in sales and profits in the year to September 30 past.

The Ballymena company, owned and run by Mark and Deborah Davison, reported a 12 per cent jump in turnover to £31.1 million, according to latest accounts filed at Companies House.

Ballygarvey's pre-tax profits lifted from £3.3 million to £4.5 million, and on a bottom-line basis, after all taxes, it banked just shy of £1 million more than it did the previous year at £3.6m.

But it comes amid a UK-wide warning that egg prices could be set to rise as coronavirus hits supply chains.

Feed costs rose by around 10 per cent last month, equivalent to an increase of £25 per tonne, according to figures from the British Free Range Egg Producers Association.

Processors have also had to scramble to redirect production destined for foodservice and hospitality into retail.

According to the BFREPA, these rises have come from exchange rates and the impact of the virus on global logistics chains.

It's chief executive Robert Gooch said: “The UK did not respond as well to the pandemic as some of the other markets and sterling took a dive. As the prices of wheat and soya are created in dollars, it meant that prices at UK level went up.”

There has been unprecedented demand for eggs across the UK as many retailers struggle to fill shelves, though this has been offset by a lower requirement from foodservice.

Ballygarvey Eggs, which operates the 'Big & Healthy' brand, has flocks totalling around 840,000 birds, supplying 250 million eggs a year in a rough 60/40 split between supermarkets and foodservice.

"The company continues to invest heavily in production facilities, equipment and processes to ensure a stable and efficient supply of eggs," the directors said.

"The directors consider that the scale of the company's operation, combined with the careful control of costs, overheads and processes gives the company a significant advantage over its competitors," they added.

Staff numbers at Ballygarvey were fairly static over the year, rising by two to 62, and the firm has an annual wages bill of close to £1.2m.

The company paid dividends to shareholders of just £210,000 during the year compared to £607,000 the year before.

Some £3.4 million was added to the company reserves, and total shareholder funds now sit at £22.7m.