Egg shortage: the last product disappeared from supermarket shelves

Australians are suffering from a national egg shortage as consumers switch to free-range eggs amid rising production costs, extreme weather events and a labor shortage.

Supermarkets across the country have returned to imposing restrictions on purchases, and farmers are struggling to keep up with demand after they reduced the number of chickens during the lockdown.

Xavier Prime, owner of Chooks at the Rooke egg farm southwest of Melbourne, told 3AW Radio that part of the problem is the cold weather, which affects how often the birds lay their eggs.

“Partly it’s also the time of year.” he said.

“Eggs are free-range, in that space the birds are open to the elements and the daylight hours are shorter, which depends a lot on how many eggs the chicks lay.”

Mr. Prime said that “for optimal egg laying” chickens need 15-16 hours of daylight every day, but at the moment they only survive 10-11 hours.

A spokesman for Woolworths said the shortage of eggs was due to a shortage of produce on farms, with the cost of young laying hens increasing by 20 percent.

“The market supply of locally produced eggs in some regions has recently been affected by reduced production on a number of farms,” they said.

“While we continue to supply eggs to our stores on a regular basis, customers may notice that supplies are limited at the moment and we thank them for their patience and understanding.

“We are in close contact with our suppliers and are working to increase the availability of eggs in stores as soon as possible.”

The supermarket giant has set a two-box limit at some stores.

Mr. Prime said he hopes the lack of supply doesn’t push consumers back to caged eggs.

But free-range eggs aren’t the only product being denied to Australian shoppers: Supermarkets are reporting empty shelves for other household items like chickpeas, lentils, lettuce, wipes and cold and flu pills.

“We have experienced reduced availability of some of our lentil and chickpea products due to supply chain delays,” a spokesperson for Woolworths said.

Supply chain issues stem from the war in Ukraine, flooding and other extreme weather events off the coast of Australia.

Originally published as Egg shortage: the last product disappeared from supermarket shelves