Egg Shortage

Wholesalers and Supermarkets have been left with shortages recently as the UK faces an egg shortage.

Supermarkets have put limits on how many can be purchased, while farmers are struggling to produce enough due to risings costs, as with most food products.

The shortage has been blamed on a number of factors.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) claims there were a variety of factors including the current outbreak of avian flu, supply issues and the cost of production.

Some farmers have also blamed retailers for not paying a fair price for eggs as production costs soar.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told BBC News there were a number of factors behind the current shortage: "We understand the difficulties that rising costs for feed and energy over the last year, combined with the bird flu outbreak, are causing issues for farmers and we are working with industry to monitor the egg market."

The war in Ukraine could also be playing a part in the chicken and egg shortages, as both Russia and Ukraine are major producers of wheat - a key ingredient in chicken feed.

And food inflation was revealed to have hit an all time high on Wednesday as the BRC's latest statistics showed food inflation at 12.4% this month, which is up from 11.6% in October.

Are the egg shortages linked to bird flu?

Yes, but there's a debate about how much of an impact avian flu is really having on the industry. The current outbreak of avian flu is the biggest on record in the UK.

Some 2.3 million birds have died or been culled since October, according to Defra, which is expected to affect egg production if chickens are being culled too.

Avian flu generally affects wild birds, but it can also spread to poultry.

Defra said that from Monday this week, all kept birds and poultry must stay indoors to help tackle the flu.

This is so wild birds do not come into contact with them, because if one bird tests positive, the whole flock will be slaughtered.

How long will the shortage last?

The short version is nobody knows when the egg shortages will end as so many of the contributing factors are still ongoing, such as the war in Ukraine, rising prices, the cost of living crisis and avian flu.

The government has tried to reassure the public that the shortages will be a short-term issue.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey recently said: "There are still nearly 40 million egg-laying hens available, I'm confident we can get through this supply difficulty in the short-term."

But the BRC told BBC News it is not clear how long the shortages will last and the NFU has warned "this escalating situation is causing many to consider their future in the [egg] industry".


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