The surge in egg prices in many countries affects consumers’ budgets for low-cost healthy foods. Eggs are a nutritious food that can be included in a well-balanced diet. The shortage of eggs in the market due to reduced production and the pandemic Avin influenza are the main cause of the price rise. There are different reasons put forward by economists, retailers, and farmers such as tightening regulatory requirements for poultry farming, the outbreak of avian influenza, supply issues, climate issues, and cost of production. Farmers are also blaming retailers for not paying a fair price to meet the increased cost of production, and labor shortage and also meet the costs of new regulatory requirements. Producing free-range eggs is more expensive not just because it requires more land. Free-range hens are less consistent layers. Hens kept in cages or barns are more regular producers because conditions are optimised to stimulate laying. Temperatures are constant, and hens are exposed to 16 hours of light every day. Adding more regulatory compliance and biosecurity measures, increased labor costs, and feed costs, which typically represent 60% of layer production costs, have been increasing along with transport, electricity, and interest rates. adding more expense to the production of eggs.
Governments are not taking any adequate steps to support farmers to limit price increases for consumers during this post covid era of the cost of living crisis. The increased price of eggs also caused to increase in the price of those food products and bakery items that use eggs as ingredients. This is also another burden for consumers to higher prices for certain food products.
The egg is considered an as inexpensive completely healthy food and a nutritional powerhouse. Protein is abundant in both egg white and yolk. It accounts for around 12.6% of an egg’s edible component. Eggs also include vitamins A, B, E, and K. . Eggs are also rich sources of selenium – an antioxidant that is important for thyroid function and our immune system and mental health – along with Vitamin D, B6, B12, Zinc, and Iron. Unfortunately, the price hike and shortage lead to reduce consumer consumption of eggs
Factors affecting egg prices:
Egg and egg product costs are rising as a result of avian flu, supply issues, rising fuel, feed, and packaging costs, and cost of production. Since the start of 2022, highly pathogenic avian influenza has led to the deaths of about 58 million birds in the USA. Poultry processors invested in new biosecurity measures ( adding another expense for producing eggs) and other precautions to mitigate the spread between farms. However, spreading the virus can be as simple as a worker stepping on wild-bird fecal matter and forgetting to clean his or her boots before entering a commercial barn—leading to the death of an entire flock.
The Ukrainian conflict may also be contributing to the chicken and egg shortages. Climate change is a major factor in the supply-chain crisis. Extreme weather events and global instability is driving up egg prices. The increase in egg prices is also affecting egg-based products such as bread, cake, and salad dressing.
The primary cause of the egg shortage appears to be bird flu. According to the most recent data from the US Department of Agriculture, as of January 23, 2023, 58.16 million hens in 47 US states had been infected with bird flu. Common feedstock, such as soy corn, and wheat, have risen in price, making it more difficult to feed chickens at reasonable pricing. According to the latest CPI statistics, the price of mayonnaise has jumped 18.2% since this time last year.
Everyone is increasing their pricing on everything, from cartons to corrugated boxes to the plastic wrap that goes around the eggs. Increased freight expenses also contribute to increased prices. Trucks to transport the eggs from A to B are more expensive, as is fuel.
The current avian flu outbreak is the worst that the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom have ever seen. This outbreak has hit 37 European countries and has crossed the Atlantic for the first time when birds migrate for the winter, affecting Canada and the United States as well.
USA: Customers may be restricted in the number of egg cartons they can purchase in different stores around the United States. According to the Department of Agriculture, more than 58 million birds in 47 states have been affected in the USA. Feeding hens is now at least 50% more expensive than in the previous year. The average price for a dozen eggs was $7.37. That’s more than quadruple the price of $2.35 a year ago.
New Zealand: Egg prices climbed 28.8% in December 2022 compared to December 2021. According to recent data from 06.02.2023. The Egg Producers’ Federation says it was because of the number of producers exiting the industry, thanks to a lack of confidence due not only to the changes in regulation and the costs associated with that but also, due to inflation and increases in feed grain prices – feed being 65 to 70% of the cost of producing an egg. A recent fire at New Zealand’s largest egg producer’s farm killed over 50,000 chickens, raising concerns that national egg scarcity. A restriction on battery-caged hens resulted in some store shelves being empty and cartons being rationed. According to the Egg Producers Federation, the restriction forced more than 75% of poultry farmers to shift their agricultural practices. Supermarket shelves are bare of eggs while others are limiting the number of cartons customers can buy during a drop in supply. At a Pak’NSave in Christchurch, customers were only allowed two cartons each, while shelves were empty at New World and Countdown in Levin.
Australia-Australians consume about 17 million eggs every day. In the 2020-21 financial year, egg farmers produced about 6.3 billion eggs. Of those, 52 percent were free-range. Australia is experiencing a national egg shortage., which leads to Prices rising and supermarket stocks being patchy. Certain supermarkets put restrictions to limit the number of cartons of eggs purchased per consumer. Increased feed costs, labor costs, electricity, and adverse weather( winter) are the main reasons for shortage and price hikes in Australia. Many farmers are unwilling to invest in increasing production in an uncertain economic environment, with interest rates and costs. Australian consumers are willing to pay more to ensure a constant supply in winter months, the shift to free-range eggs carries a higher likelihood of winter shortages due to lack exposure to sunlight, which is essential for producing free-range eggs
European countries: The European Union’s laws to improve the conditions of battery hens are being blamed for record egg costs in some member countries, notably the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As a result, there are “alarming shortages” of eggs and egg-based goods. Due to supply problems, the price of eggs in the EU has risen by 75% in the last six months. Eggs consumed by 99% of French people, could fall by up to 10% this year. According to Franceinfo, the price of a box of six eggs has risen by 13% since September 2021. The spread of avian flu has compelled farmers in France to slaughter nearly 770,000 animals. As a result, the number of chickens available to produce eggs has decreased, resulting in fewer eggs. On the other hand, the cost of the living problem has influenced consumer behavior, with many more people choosing eggs as a more affordable source of protein over meat.
United Kingdom: Due to egg scarcity, supermarkets in the United Kingdom have been left with empty shelves. Tesco, Asda, and Lidl have put limits on how many eggs customers can buy, while growers are struggling to produce enough owing to increased expenses.
How long will the shortage last?
Nobody knows when the egg shortages will end because so many of the contributing causes are still in effect. The nationwide wholesale average for a dozen eggs was $3.30, which was still significantly higher than the $1.93 average reported in January 2022. While egg farmers had to learn hard lessons about handling avian flu, they are now far better prepared to cope with outbreaks than in the past. As a result, egg growers are recuperating faster after having a flock culled and a facility decontaminated. While it is unknown when the egg shortage will end, prices have reportedly begun to fall now that the holiday season is past. Although the avian flu may never be totally eradicated from the US chicken population, egg production will gradually shift in response.
Reduce your egg consumption:
If you don’t have a great source of eggs or are concerned that the shortage will increase, try cutting back on your egg consumption as much as possible. The simplest approach to deal with these rising prices is to stick with plant-based foods until prices begin to level down. Include paneer, lentils, soya and tofu, and oatmeal in your diet.
Refer below link to know more about the egg crisis and safety.https://www.globalfoodconsumers.org/news/rising-food-prices/: Worldwide egg shortage due to several reasons raises prices in global supermarkets https://www.globalfoodconsumers.org/news/egg-safety/: Worldwide egg shortage due to several reasons raises prices in global supermarkets