Tesco has joined other supermarkets to limit the number of egg crates customers can buy in the UK as the impact of rising costs and bird flu continue to take their toll.
The grocery chain said it had introduced a temporary purchase limit of three boxes per customer as a precaution.
Earlier this month, Asda and Lidl announced restrictions on buying eggs in some of their stores.
Britain’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for an “urgent investigation” into the disruption to the egg supply chain.
The NFU said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) should consider making a declaration under the Farm Bill 2020 to ensure “much needed support” for egg producers.
The Government said the situation was being monitored but insisted the UK’s food supply chain was “resilient” and that overall no “significant impact” was expected.
A Defra spokesman said: “We understand the difficulties rising costs associated with the bird flu outbreak are causing farmers and we are working with industry to monitor the egg market.
“The UK food supply chain is resilient – there are 38 million laying hens across the country and we do not expect any major impact on the overall supply.”
The NFU said a declaration under Section 20 of the Farm Bill “would allow Defra to use its statutory powers to provide much-needed support to egg producers whose livelihoods are threatened”.
Union leader Minette Batters said it was “crucial” that the government act now to give producers “the confidence they need”.
She said: “The poultry sector is facing a multitude of issues, particularly within the egg supply chain, which have been building up over months and which we have been warning about for some time. Inflation in energy prices and disruption to the supply chain have contributed to the worst avian flu outbreak to date. However, this pressure alone cannot explain empty shelves.
“The NFU raised concerns about the viability of the supply chain at Defra a few months ago, hoping to avoid the situation we are in now, where some retailers are having to restrict UK consumers’ access to eggs. This is certainly a semblance of a serious disruption to an agricultural market.
“It is crucial that Defra acts now to investigate the issues in the egg supply chain so that any Section 20 declarations can be made as quickly as possible.
“Poultry and egg producers need to have the trust they need and work within a fair and transparent supply chain with fair returns for farmers so they can do what they do best. to meet buyer demand for quality British eggs and poultry.”
The UK is facing its worst-ever outbreak of bird flu and cases of a new strain have been found in Ireland, leading to an order for all poultry to be kept indoors.
This is exacerbating existing shortages in the UK caused by producers reducing production or exiting the industry due to increased costs, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sending up farmers’ energy bills along with the cost of chicken feed, chickens and packaging.
Demand for eggs is also increasing as consumers seek cheaper sources of protein to offset rising grocery bills.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/tesco-latest-supermarket-to-limit-egg-purchases-in-uk-amid-supply-disruption-42162450.html Tesco’s latest supermarket limits UK purchases of eggs amid supply disruption