British Supermarkets Start To Ration Eggs

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Nov 18, 2022 - 10:00 AM

Authored by Owen Evans via The Epoch Times,

Major supermarket chains Asda and Lidl have started to ration the number of boxes of eggs customers can buy owing to supply chain issues.

Both stores said the measure is temporary and because of avian flu which has disrupted the supply of some egg ranges.

Waitrose said it had not introduced any limits but was “continuing to monitor customer demand.”

Other major retailers including Tesco, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and Co-op said they were not limiting sales. Sainsbury is stocking eggs imported from Italy.

Last week, the government said that the UK is facing its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu with over 200 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021.

While acknowledging bird flu, poultry farmers say that energy costs and retailers buying produce at low prices are now tightening the supply of eggs.

‘Media Is Getting It Wrong’

Full-time fourth-generation farmer Ioan Humphreys told The Epoch Times that there is going to be an “egg shortage.”

Humphreys has a farm in Wales with 32,000 free-range hens. On Nov. 8 he posted a video to Twitter that had over 125,000 views in which he argued that “avian flu is not the main reason we’re in an egg shortage. Supermarkets doing as they please again.”

On Thursday, he posted another video in which he said that “the mainstream media can’t get their head around the fact that it’s the supermarkets’ fault for this egg shortage, not avian flu.”

Humphreys claims the supermarkets are not paying farmers for the eggs despite upping the price for the consumer. The price increase is not reaching farmers even though costs for producing feed, electricity, and new birds have gone up.

“They are taking things a bit overboard by rationing, it’ll create panic buying. The media is getting it wrong by saying it’s bird flu when it’s the supermarkets not buying for a fair price which is the issue,” he told The Epoch Times.

“There is going to be an egg shortage, there will be less, and farmers can’t afford to produce,” he said.

“There was bird flu last year and there wasn’t a shortage of eggs because we could afford to produce,” he added.

Last week, a spokesman for the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, told The Epoch Times that over a third of egg farmers are considering quitting the industry because they say it is no longer economically viable to farm hens.

The issue of rationing reached the House of Commons on Thursday.

Labour MP Dan Jarvis asked environment secretary Therese Coffey, “Avian influenza has meant that the British Free Range [Egg] Producers Association have said that a third of members have cut back on production, so, can the secretary of state say what the government is doing to help poultry farmers through what is a very challenging time?”

“The minister for food, farming, and fishing is meeting the industry on a regular basis, a weekly basis, is my understanding,” said Coffey.

“I think it’s fair to say retailers have not directly contacted the department to indicate supply chains, although I am conscious of what is happening in individual shelves,” she said.

“But recognising there are still about nearly 14 million egg-laying hens available, I’m confident we can get through this supply difficulty in the short term,” added Coffey.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, told The Epoch Times by email: “While avian flu has disrupted the supply of some egg ranges, retailers are experts at managing supply chains and are working hard to minimise impact on customers. Some stores have introduced temporary limits on the number of boxes customers can buy to ensure availability for everyone.”

“Supermarkets source the vast majority of their food from the UK and know they need to pay a sustainable price to egg farmers but are constrained by how much additional cost they can pass onto consumers during a cost-of-living crisis,” he added.