(LONDON) — British shoppers searching for eggs found empty shelves as the UK’s “biggest ever” bird flu outbreak and rising costs have put pressure on egg supplies across the globe. country.
Customers at British supermarket retailers Sainsbury’s and Tesco found eggs out of stock, while retailer Lidl has put out a ration of eggs at some of its supermarket branches, limiting each customer to three units of eggs due to shortages.
Elsewhere, breakfast menus at chain restaurants and pubs across the country are also shrinking, with chefs seeking alternatives to eggs as they grapple with shortages.
“We are now facing the biggest bird flu outbreak in history this year and are seeing a rapid increase in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England,” says UK Veterinary Director Christine Middlemiss. “The risk of captive birds being exposed to disease has reached a point where it is now necessary for all birds to be housed until further notice.”
There have been 234 cases of bird flu in England since October 2021, and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control says a record 48 million birds have been culled in the UK and Europe during the epidemic flu season. avian from 2021 to 2022.
Rising production costs for UK poultry farmers have also increased pressure on the egg supply chain.
“Egg producers have been hit by huge increases in production costs,” says the British Farmed Egg Producers Association (BFREPA). “Feeding chickens is now at least 50% more expensive than it used to be, and energy prices have skyrocketed in the same way that consumers have seen their household bills rise.”
“Not a single box”
“I went to my local Sainsbury’s yesterday morning and there wasn’t a single carton of eggs on the shelf,” Gemma De Souza, 27, told ABC News. “I own a small home baking business, so eggs are a life saver for me. I had to jump around two Tesco stores until I came across one with a shelf full of eggs, so even in my local area it’s a very mixed picture with some stores having lots of eggs and others having none at all.”
British-Americans also noted egg shortages ahead of Thanksgiving celebrations next week.
“I have family coming from the United States next week and our family tradition is that we always have this big Thanksgiving party,” Sam Johnson, 32, told ABC News. “The egg shelves at my local store have been empty all week, so I’ve been running all over London for the past few days on an egg-finding mission.”
Some free-range egg producers have been criticizing supermarket chains, saying the current shortages are the result of retailers not paying farmers enough, leaving them at a loss while producing eggs.
In a viral video, Welsh farmer Ioan Humphreys said: “Supermarkets don’t pay us a fair price to cover the cost. They have raised the price for the consumer, but that has not affected us, the farmers”.
According to the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA), the average price of a tray of eggs has increased by 50 pence (59 US cents) in supermarkets, however farmers have only seen an increase in price payment of between 5 and 10 pence during this period. period.
“We have been warning for months that if farmers are not paid a price that allows them to make a profit, it would lead to a massive depletion of stocks or, worse still, an exodus from the industry,” says Robert Gooch, chief executive of BFREPA.
Responding to concerns about the egg crisis in the House of Commons, Therese Coffey, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says she is “confident that we can overcome this supply difficulty in the short term”, adding that there are “still 40 million laying hens available” across the UK and that she “meets with the industry regularly”.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.