Cafés scrambling to beat egg shortage as new regulations loom

December 28, 2022

Egg suppliers are scrambling to fill shelves as hospitality venues begin to feel the effects of a national shortage and new regulations.

In Auckland's Ponsonby, cafe owner Ron Haver told 1News that he had to go on an unexpected egg hunt as the busy Christmas season arrived.

"It's been a real scramble to find eggs," he said. "It's been a lot of phone calls to suppliers and trying to secure eggs from lots of different places - bit of driving around - but we've managed to pull it off."

One Auckland bakery owner told 1News that they typically needed around 4000 eggs during a single week. Bread and Butter Bakery owner Isabel Pasch said they also had to go hunting for eggs - after their usual supplier ran out.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said Kiwis would ultimately have to shell out more for their eggs next year.

"We have a very tight supply situation due to a multitude of factors," he said. Those factors included supply chain issues, Covid, and global inflation.

Meanwhile, a long-signalled end to cage farming comes into effect this Saturday - after having originally been announced in 2012.

Caged hens were once the norm in the industry, the Poultry Industry Association believed it was now just two farms with around 12,000 of the current flock of three million.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, which is overseeing the change, told 1News that it was working hard with remaining producers who hadn't yet transitioned to free range farming, to avoid the unnecessary killing of hens.

A number of egg producers have closed since the change was announced.

"So that makes it tight and of course Christmas is a time when people are using eggs more than ever," Brooks said.

As shelves begin to look bare, some supermarkets have put a limit on eggs for shoppers.

Haver said he had already seen the price of eggs rise.

"We used to pay around $60 a box, for something like 180 eggs," he said, "Now it's getting over $85, $90, and steadily increasing."

But the industry warns it could be months before cracks in the supply chain are patched.

"Even if you order day-old chicks, it's four-and-a-half to five months before they start laying," Brooks said.


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