Photo: Yijia Wu

ASDA, Lidl, Sainsbury’, and Tesco have issued warnings of egg shortages. The root cause is not the avian flu but the rising cost to farmers.

“Every morning I walk into Sainsbury’s and only found the empty egg shelf”,  a student living around Goldsmiths University said. On Twitter, users across the UK are facing egg crisis.

Plenty of contributory factors have been proposed by industry experts. The direct one is avian flu.

Earlier this year, avian flu was declared in Britain. Keepers are required by law to keep birds indoors and to adopt strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread and eradicate the disease. Many infected birds had to be culled.

But it’s not the main reason, indicated by the Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) – “We understand the difficulties the bird flu outbreak is causing for farmers. However, the laying hen population is approximately 38 million so it’s unlikely to affect the overall supply”.

Rising costs for farmers have had an even greater impact on the market, according to the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) -“Egg producers have been hit with huge hikes in production costs”.

They warned in a statement that, “Feeding hens is now at least 50 percent more expensive than it used to be. Fuel expenses have increased by 30 percent, while labour and packaging costs have also increased.”

The members of them were losing “5-10p” of a 45p rise in the sale of eggs at the retail level.

One egg farmer, Loan Humphreys, posted a video with over 14k likes, indicating that they can’t afford the rising cost without the fair price from supermarket.

BFREPA chief executive, Robert Gooch said: “We have been warning for months that failing to pay farmers a price which allows them to make a profit would result in mass de-stocking or, worse still, an exodus from the industry.”

They are now asking Sainsbury’s for urgent meetings as imports from Italy and other countries replace British eggs on supermarket shelves.