Farmers warn of British egg shortage for Christmas due to bird flu and rising costs
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Concerns are being raised by farmers that the UK may be faced with an egg shortage this Christmas. This is due to a combination of the ongoing outbreak of bird flu and rising costs.
The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) warned earlier this year that many members were “losing 5-10p” of a 45p rise in the sale of eggs at retail level.
The group asked for a 40p rise per dozen eggs at retail level and for additional money to be then distributed to producers. However, BFREPA have said that this extra money has not been passed down the chain.
The outbreak of bird flu has also required many birds across the country to be culled to try and tackle the spread. On November 7 the UK government announced all birds needed to be kept inside until further notice.
This comes as Asda have put in place a limit of two boxes of eggs per customer over shortages fears.
A spokesperson for BFREPA said: "In March we asked for a 40p per dozen rise in egg prices at retail level, and for the additional money to be passed down the chain to producers. While egg prices have risen by about 45p per dozen, many farmers have only received 5-10p of that rise.
“Egg producers have been hit with huge hikes in production costs. Feeding hens is now at least 50% more expensive than it was, and energy prices have soared in the same way that consumers have seen their domestic bills rise. Spending on fuel has grown by 30%, while labour and packaging also costs more.
"Many of our members are losing money on every egg laid, and our data shows that even those who are making a small profit do not see a long-term future. Our survey of 163 free range producers this week showed that 33% had either reduced their flock sizes, paused production temporarily or left the industry all together.
“Fewer hens means fewer eggs and we warned in March that eggs could be in short supply by Christmas. Egg supply naturally tightens at this time of year as businesses and individuals prepare for Christmas, which may be exacerbating the situation. On top of this, avian influenza has resulted in the culling of laying hens too.
“We need to see farmers paid a sustainable price to restore confidence and optimism to the sector.”