With coronavirus prompting the closure of the food-service sector, retailers have struggled to cope with soaring demands for fresh eggs.
Realignment of egg supply chains from food service into the retail sector due to Covid-19 restrictions has caused severe market disruption for egg producers.
With the latest Kantar retail figures highlighting a 14.5 per cent increase in egg volume sales on the year before (April 19), chief executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) Robert Gooch said the spike had created ‘logistical’ problems for the processing market.
He said: “We have seen staggering levels of demand for fresh eggs, which has caused logistical issues through the supply chain, particularly the distribution side, from packers to retailers.
“The switch from eating out to eating in means packaging requirements, particularly for branded products, have changed and this has slowed the supply of eggs in to major supermarkets.”
Disruption follows moves by retail giant Lidl, which faced backlash after it was forced to source fresh shell eggs from the Netherlands in a bid to keep up with demand.
A Lidl spokesperson stressed the move was temporary ‘until normal supply and demand resumed, to ensure we can maintain availability for customers’.
But the move to source imported shell eggs was branded as ‘extremely disappointing’ by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC).
BEIC chairman Andrew Joret warned imported eggs were not produced to the same high food safety standards of the ‘comprehensive’ British Lion code of practice and therefore posed a risk to vulnerable groups such as young children, the elderly and the infirm if consumed raw.
Mr Gooch echoed this and said it was extremely ‘rare’ for imported eggs from any production system to be stocked in stores, adding: “We would hope that all retailers would stock British eggs wherever possible, [as has been the case over the past 30 years].”