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Global Ag View: New Zealand faces egg shortage as demand soars

New Zealand could be facing a shortage of eggs as the country makes the switch to free range alongside soaring demand.

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Global Ag View: New Zealand faces egg shortage as demand soars

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said supply problems were causing shortages as the number of laying hens dropped with the industry adapting to change.

 

The number of laying hens has dropped from 4.2 million at the end of last year to 3.6m.

 

Mr Brooks told Radio New Zealand: "We are just going to see a lesser amount of eggs and that will probably translate to some extent to price increases, just because of a shortage of supply.”

 

In 2012, there were new rules introduced to gradually phase out battery cages for hens in New Zealand by 2022.

 

But with poultry farmers facing additional costs for new infrastructure to meet each stage of the regulations, it has impacted supply.


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It meant farmers were facing big and expensive decisions as they looked at moving to barn or free range production.

 

All New Zealand’s major supermarkets have committed to stopping selling caged eggs by 2027.

 

And demand for eggs was up, with Mr Brooks crediting nutritionists switching back to recommending eggs and a move away from breakfast cereals.

 

An average person eats 230 eggs in a year in New Zealand, with eggs growing in popularity.

 

Major supermarket Countdown said its stores were reporting pressure on supplies of barn and free range eggs, with the public increasingly concerned about social and environmental issues.

 

Countdown head of perishables Nikhil Sawant said: "We are working closely with our egg farmers as we all adjust to this increased demand, but there are unfortunately going to be shortages from time to time.

 

“We are trying our best to keep shortages to a minimum and are expecting supply to improve in the coming few months.”

 

UK retailers have committed to selling only cage free eggs by 2025, with Morrisons pledging to make the switch by 2022. The UK already has the largest free range flock in Europe.

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