John Bowler has spent the last 30 years offering franchises to would-be free-range egg producers, helping to fuel the rapid expansion of a sector which now accounts for over half the retail market.

But the signs are that the market has moved into surplus and many free-range businesses are looking at significantly smaller margins than they might have once anticipated.

The message from Mr Bowler, however, is that they should not panic. “We are coming into a time of egg surplus and it’s difficult to understand if this is a temporary blip caused by the usual summer decrease in demand, or something more serious.

“This may come as a shock to some, but it’s no shock to many in the trade because I have seen it all before. The immediate effect of low egg prices is that it normally knocks out the inefficient producers and those who do not have their finances soundly structured. Read full story.