Eggs-tremely concerning! Shoppers scramble for eggs as shortage caused by bird flu sparks rationing fears

  • Empty shelves follow in the wake of the bird flu crisis, which has led to bird culls
  • Signs on display in Sainsbury’s and Aldi stores have highlight supplier issues 
  • There have also been reports that supplier issues have spread to Wetherspoons 
  • Bird flu epidemic has led to a mass cull of about 48million chickens around UK 

Fears are rising that supermarkets will ration eggs after shoppers began to report shortages.

The empty shelves follow in the wake of the bird flu crisis, which has led to millions of birds being culled.

Signs in Sainsbury’s and Aldi have highlighted supplier issues, while there have also been reports of the pub chain Wetherspoons running short.

One sign in a Sainsbury’s stated: ‘Can’t find the eggs you want? We’re dealing with supplier issues right now. We’re sorry for any hassle this causes.’

There is a risk stores will resort to rationing eggs in order to avoid disappointment for customers who have also been hit

There is a risk stores will resort to rationing eggs in order to avoid disappointment for customers who have also been hit .

Earlier this year, Asda rationed purchases of its budget lines after items sold out, while shortages of fresh produce linked to poor weather in Europe have also caused shortages. During the pandemic, supermarkets rationed eggs and flour.

Helen Watts, from a wholesale supplier Freshfield Farm Eggs in Cheshire, said that avian flu had ‘affected supplies as a lot of birds have had to be culled’ and the situation had been getting ‘gradually worse’.

Charles Mears, who farms at Wareseley, Cambridgeshire, said: ‘We’ve been warning people for a long time, but people have been expecting cheap food, which just isn’t sustainable.

‘If the Government does not intervene to support farmers, there will be no eggs by Christmas.’

The bird flu epidemic has led to a mass cull of about 48million chickens around the country, a mix of birds reared for the table and others that were producing free range eggs. It became a legal requirement yesterday to keep captive birds and poultry indoors and follow strict biosecurity rules.

The British Free Range Egg Producers Association said: ‘We warned ten months ago that producers would pause or halt production if they weren’t paid a fair price for their product, and that the knock-on effect would be fewer hens and fewer eggs.’

The bird flu epidemic has led to a mass cull of about 48million chickens around the country, a mix of birds reared for the table and others that were producing free range eggs

The shortages come against a background of soaring food inflation, which hit 14.6 per cent in the 12 months to the end of September according to official figures.

The British Egg Industry Council said: ‘Egg supply is fairly tight at present, however, availability does naturally fluctuate in terms of supply and demand.’

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Retailers are experts at managing supply chains and will continue to work hard to ensure minimal impact to customers despite ongoing supply chain pressures.’

The food and farming ministry, Defra, said that there was no ‘immediate threat’ to the food supply chain, including eggs.

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