Why some Australian supermarkets have started rationing eggs

If you’ve noticed empty supermarket shelves, changing local food menus, or skyrocketing prices for your favorite poached eggs, you’re not alone.

Australia is in the midst of an egg shortage, caused by a variety of factors. Here’s what you should know:

what’s going on?

Across Australia, eggs are the latest item to be hit by supply chain problems, following lettuce and chicken shortages and toilet paper shortages early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supply challenges appear to be market-wide, with all major retailers affected in some regions.

Some have introduced purchase limits, while others have increased prices. Some stores have completely bare shelves.
When it comes to eating out, many hospitality businesses are changing menus or raising prices on egg-based products, said Wes Lambert, director of the Australian Foodservice Advocacy Group.
“If there is a disruption in the supply chain or an increase in supply chain costs, there are only a handful of things that businesses can do,” he said.
“If you can get a supply, it’s usually a price increase that should be passed on to the customer if possible, and possibly a change to a different product or ingredient.

“But without eggs, it’s hard to put a poached egg on toast or a scrambled egg on toast.”

Why are you short?

Many factors contribute to the shortage, but it is essentially a case of demand exceeding supply.
According to Egg Farmers of Australia, the industry has been hit by a number of issues in recent years, including bushfires, floods, droughts, rat epidemics, the impact of COVID-19 and rising production costs.
Lambert said there are four main factors, adding: , and finally, Australia is experiencing a severe labor shortage.

“All of this combined created a perfect storm and increased costs significantly, which is something diners are definitely seeing on the menu.

how does it affect me?

For consumers, the impact of egg shortages is being felt in both access and prices.
Some supermarkets, such as Coles Group, have introduced a two-pack product limit per customer.

Some supermarkets, such as Coles Group, place limits on the number of eggs customers can purchase. sauce: SBS News / Reine Tamer

Customers can also expect to pay more for meals at cafes and restaurants, Lambert said.

When it comes to supply shortages, he says hospitality operators have limited options.
“[Companies]are definitely seeing an increase in egg prices, and that will certainly be passed on to customers,” he said.
“Such shortages have been going on for weeks and months, and the hospitality industry has passed on these increased costs to higher menu prices.”

Food shortages combined with rising operating costs have led many hospitality businesses to raise prices by up to 15 percent, Lambert said.

How is COVID-19 related?

Matthew Fenech, owner of egg producer Fenech Family Farms, said COVID-19 was a key factor in the gap between supply and demand for his business.
“During the COVID-19 epidemic, sales were down, so we had no choice for the last two years. I was.

“And as demand picks up, it takes longer to replace those goods, so supply isn’t picking up that fast.”

Rowan McMonies, managing director of Australian Eggs, a research and development company that serves egg farmers, said farmers can usually meet demand throughout the year through planning, but the disruption caused by COVID-19 has made this difficult. said to have become
“When the lockdown ended last year, retail egg demand dropped immediately, sending a signal to farmers that they needed fewer eggs,” he said.

“However, eggs have recovered much faster than expected, with demand for eggs increasing in the last 12 months.”

Does this happen every year?

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, severe food shortages have been highlighted, but general shortages of fresh produce and other foodstuffs are a somewhat common occurrence.
In winter, for example, free-range farms often experience lower yields, says Fenech.
“There are periods of oversupply and low demand…just like fruits and vegetables,” Fennec said.

“The market goes up and down all the time, but it’s never been this extreme.”

When will things return to normal?

Fenech said it’s nearly impossible to predict when the shortage will end, but the process of increasing supply to meet demand will take months.
“By the time you decide[to increase your supply]put the eggs in the incubator, hatch those eggs, raise those chickens…you’re looking at six to eight months,” he said. Said.

“I think you have to get through it. Chickens are not like toilet paper. You can run a machine 24 hours a day, but a chicken just needs to lay one egg.”

Why some Australian supermarkets have started rationing eggs

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