The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for an “urgent investigation” into the egg supply chain disruption following the largest ever bout of bird flu.
This is compounding existing shortages and many egg producers have either left the industry or have cut back on output.
The war in Ukraine has pushed up prices for farmers amid higher energy bills and the cost of chicken feed and packaging.
Waitrose has pledged to provide £2.6 million investment into their eg suppliers and has said they have no plans to introduce rationing for their customers unlike other supermarkets.
Waitrose said they are confident they have “strong availability of British free-range eggs available for purchase both online and in our shops.”
Waitrose said its £2.6 million investment will go directly to farmers to support them with soaring production costs, which includes energy, chicken feed and packaging.
Waitrose executive director James Bailey said, “Without our farmers, we can’t function as a business. We’ve cultivated longstanding relationships with our suppliers, and paying our farmers fairly and offering our customers free-range British eggs are commitments that we simply won’t sacrifice, even when the going gets tough.
“We continue to have a good supply of 100% British free-range eggs, which we believe in part is testament to these strong relationships and our commitment to our farmers.
“With shortages elsewhere in the market, we have seen a slight rise in demand but we’re working hard to ensure we continue to have quality, high welfare products on our shelves.”
The NFU is calling for an urgent @DefraGovUK investigation into the egg supply chain following disruption for producers and consumers.
— National Farmers' Union (@NFUtweets) November 23, 2022
M&S, who have been limiting customers to two boxes since Friday, said, “As an own-brand retailer, we benefit from direct and longstanding relationships with our trusted suppliers and have been working hard with them to maintain good availability of British, free-range eggs for our customers.
“We have provided additional support, including for animal feed, to help suppliers manage rising costs.
“While we have good supply of UK free-range eggs, given the recent spike in demand we are limiting eggs to a maximum of two packs per customer. This is to ensure fair availability for all customers and signage is now in store.”
A Morrisons spokeswoman said, “At the end of last week we saw an unprecedented demand for our eggs and are now introducing a two-pack cap.
“We would encourage customers to only buy what they need so that stock levels can return to normal as quickly as possible.
“All of the eggs we sell are British and the vast majority come from our own egg packing site in North Yorkshire.”
Richard Crampton, director of fresh food at Sainsbury’s, said, “We understand that farmers who supply our own-brand egg packers are also facing significant challenges and it is clear that this is impacting the number of eggs they are able to produce.
“To support them we have increased the amount we pay our packers for eggs over the past 12 months, while at the same time remaining focused on keeping prices low for customers.
“In response to high levels of inflation in June we accelerated our support, making a meaningful 20% increase in the amount we pay for eggs and last week we further doubled this investment, paying an additional 20%.
“This brings the total we have increased pay by over the past 12 months to around 40%.”