National Interests and Commerce.-The foreign importations of eggs into Great Britain increased rapidly during the later years of the 19th century. Taking only alternate years for brevity's sake, the following table shows the amount, value and average price per 120 between 1870 and 1900:-
Number, Value and Price of Imported Eggs.
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Year. Number of Eggs. Value. Algfxzfe
£ s. d.
1870 430,842,240 1,102,080 6 1%
1872 531,591,720 1,762,000 7 II%
1374 680,552,280 2,433,134 8 7
1876 753,026,040 2,620,396 8 4
1878 783,714,720 2,511,096 7 8%
1330 747,403,600 2,235,451 7 2
1882 811,922,400 2,385,263 7 1
1334 993,603,760 2,910,493 7 0
1886 1,035,171,000 2,884,063 6 8
1888 1,126,793,000 3,083,167 6 6
1890 1,234,950,000 3,428,806 6 8
1892 1,336,730,000 3,794,718 6 IO
1394 1,425,236,000 3,736,329 0 5
1896 1,589,401,000 4,184,656 6 4
1393 1,730,952,000 4,457,117 6 2x 1
1900 2,025,820,560 5,406,141 6 5; Y
From such figures the conclusion might be drawn eggs were “ ousting ” British to a formidable extent; but such a conclusion is dispelled when we take into consideration questions of price and nationality. Imported eggs are of very different qualities and prices, France averaging for the year 1900, 7s. 7§ d. per 120, Denmark 7s. 6§ d., Belgium 6s. 2d., Germany 5s. 9%d. and Russia 5s. 6d., many of the latter being almost putrid when sold in England, and chiefly used in manufactures, for which, at a low price, they answer perfectly. Many eggs are sent from Russia to Germany, Belgium and even Denmark, so that some of these also come from her, at an original price with which no British producer could compete. A steady decline in imports of the higher priced French eggs, and an enormous increase of low-priced eggs, explain the drop in average price from 8s. 7d. per 120 in 1874 to 6s. 5%d. in 1900; and were this all, the inference would be simply that the selling price of eggs had fallen. But this is not so. While the higher priced foreign eggs have thus been largely displaced from the market, there has grown up a very large demand for British “ new-laid " eggs, at prices much higher than any of the above. There is a wholesale market for such eggs in London. The lowest price (in May) for 1900 was 7s. 6d. to Ss. 6d., and the highest (in December) 19s. to 205. per 120. The quantity of reputed “ new-laid “ British eggs now sold is enormous, and has grown up in the face of foreign imports, the native producer selling in spite of them, and at far better prices, many times more than he did, say, in 1875. The following were the British imports of dead poultry and game for the last three years of the 19th century:- Value of British Imports of Poultry and Game. Year. France. Russia. Belgium. C0?, E, i§ , i-eS £, E £ £
1393 217,703 164,493 127,923 127,363
1399 296,555 139,334 165,303 133,102
1900 333,148 199,282 213,603 264,327
The total for 1900 thus amounted to £I, 010,360. The imports from France and Belgium are largely for the Christmas market. Those from Russia are chiefly very small fowls wrapped in paper and packed in cases of a hundred each, which come over frozen, to be sold at ls. 2d. or 1s. 3d. each. Other sources include America, Canada and Australia, which have been sending smaller but increasing quantities of larger birds, packed in smaller numbers, and which realize 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. each, a few of the largest as much as 4s. each. Such supplies have somewhat affected the Sussex fattening industry, necessitating the production of a lower class of bird at a lower price and narrower margin; but they look rough and inferior in colour, and chiefly supply restaurant and hotel demand. The foreign birds being cold-storage goods, which must be consumed quickly when taken out, a fresh Sussex fowl of the same weight will always sell for considerably more.
There are no statistics of British poultry; in Ireland they are collected. The year 1851 closed a decade in which the number of holdings under ten acres had decreased enormously, and the number of poultry in Ireland was then returned as 7,470,694. In 1889 this number had doubled to 14,856,517, and in 1899 there were 18,2?l3,52f). The Irish Agricultural Organization Society is doing muc to improve breeds and management, and the packing of eggs, pf which Ireland is a considerable exporter to Great Britain. There 18 also now a considerable export of lean chickens for fattening to Sussex and other parts of England, and a smaller number have also been fattened in Ireland.
In Australia most of the federated states have a produce export department, which receives eggs and dead poultry into cold storage and ships to London, managing, if desired, the whole business. That of South Australia shipped a good many eggs to England in 1895, but the temperature was found too low for eggs, and this trade has so far not developed. Dead poultry corne in a similar way from West Australia and Victoria to London. In New South Wales such arrangements have inaugurated a small export business which seems the most active of any, and more seems nown about the poultry industry in this state than in others. The government statistician estimated the number kept in 1900 at 3,180,000 fowls, 320,000 ducks, 234,000 turkeys and 97,000 geese, the annual consumption being about three-fourths of this, and of eggs about 97,000,000. In Canada the government makes considerable effort to encourage poultry. It has established several stations where systematic fattening of chickens in the English manner is taught, and official experiments are also made on the results of various feeding-rations and other matters. From these stations shipments of fatted chickens were first made to Liverpool and London, commencing an export trade which shows signs of growth.
The poultry industry in the United States is the most gigantic in the world. By the census of 1900, which tabulates returns from 5,096,252 out of the 5,739,657 farms in the States, the number of fowls over three months old on the 1st of June 1900 was returned as 233,598,085, with 6,599,367 turkeys, 5,676,363 geese, and 4,807,358 ducks, or 250,681,673 birds in all, valued at 85,794,996 dollars. This, however, would include very few of the chickens raised that year, which would not have reached the age stated, and mainly represents breeding and laying stock, which thus averages about 49 birds to every holding; it also of necessity omits many of the smaller city-lot 'raisers. The value of the poultry raised during the whole year 1899 is given as 136,891,877 dollars, and of the eggs produced 0,293,819,186 dozen) at 144,286,186 dollars; a total year's product of over £56,000,000. Adding only a very moderate amount for city-lot and other small producers not making return, the poultry industry in America exceeded in value either the wheat crop, or swine or cotton crop.
The importance of poultry in France has long been recognized, being due mainly to the prevalence of moderately small holdings and the national disposition to small rural industries. The eggs exported are collected from the farmers by such a well-organized system that eggs collected on Wednesday are in the'L0ndon market the following Tuesday. The home consumption of eggs is also enormous, so that when prices for foreign eggs decreased in England, the Paris market paid better. In 1900 the Paris Munici al Council reported the consumption of eggs in that city alone in the previous year as 212 per head. Eggs are imported from Italy to some extent. The conditions in Belgium are somewhat similar to those in France. Some eggs are imported from Italy, and much of the home production is from imported Italian hens, kept laying for a year and then killed: eggs are exported chiefly to France, Great Britain and Germany. There is a fattening industry somewhat similar to that in Sussex, lean chickens being bought for fattening in certain markets. The chief export of these is to Germany, but there is some to the London market, especially in December.
In the Netherlands the number of poultry increased considerably during the last decade of the 19th century, excepting turkeys, which' diminished. Taking 1900 as a typical year, there were 4,083,312 fowls, 430,022 ducks, 36,307 geese, and 13,130 turkeys; and there were about 70 special establishments for poultry-rearing, which were rather on the increase, chiefly for local requirements. Of eggs there were exported to Belgium 656,898, England 370,418 and Germany 3,212,845 kilos; but the imports were in excess of this by 2,916,269 kilos, and came chiefly from Russia. Dead fowls and ducks also go to the countries above named. In Denmark there were in 1900 about 9,000,000 fowls, mostly local and Italian. The eggs exported numbered 332,000,000, practically all to England; there were imported 35,600, o0o, practically all Russian, re-exported to England. The Hourishing export trade is due to a good co-operative system.
Germany is a large consumer rather than a producer of poultry products, and chiefly a carrier of her nominal exports. She imports eggs from Italy and Austria-Hungary as well as from Russia. Austria-Hungary has a large trade in poultry and eggs. In 1900 the dual monarchy imported poultry to the ~ value of £268,240 and eggs to the value of £I,230,655. But the exports of poultry amounted to £977,05I, and of eggs to no less than £3,750,078. This country is therefore a very large producer, most of the eggs going to Germany, and some of them through her on to England. Italy sends live fowls, for laying, to northern Europe, and eggs to Belgium and France.
In Russia the growth of the poultry industry has been very great since 1890. In that year her British trade was small: in 1900 she bulked largest of all countries in eggs sentto England direct, and some nominally from others really came from her. Her exports of eggs (reckoned as £1 = 10 roubles) were valued in 1898 at £3,113,386, and of live poultry (chiefly geese) at £637,000; but this latter sum is now exceeded by geese alone sent to Germany, as above noticed.