Egg shortage: 'Some months' of tight supply ahead - expert

Tue, Jan 24

It will be months before New Zealand's egg shortage eases, an industry leader warns, as Kiwis struggle under the current circumstances.

Isabel Pasch, founder of bakery and café Bread & Butter, said the situation is "stressful".

Pasch said she has days where she needs to drive around multiple stores to try and find enough eggs for her business to operate.

"It's been a tough three years in hospitality...and now an egg shortage, so it's like, when does it ever end?" she said.

Egg Producers Federation director Michael Brooks told Breakfast "it is a problem, and it's a real concern for the farmers".

"There's a range of reasons why it's all come together at this time," he said, particularly the phased ban on "old-style" battery cages.

The industry "totally supported" moving away from battery cages, Brooks said.

Generic image of eggs.

But supermarkets said they wouldn't be taking eggs from the alternative colony cages in 2025, he added, leaving farmers with tough and potentially expensive decisions to make - and leaving New Zealand "about 400,000 hens short".

"So I've talked to the supermarkets and I'm looking to have a meeting in the next couple of weeks, saying to them 'guys, you really need to have a rethink about what you're doing here, it's caused a problem'," Brooks said.

"If consumers want to buy free range eggs, let them do that, but for people particularly in poorer socio-economic areas, the ability to buy twenty eggs means a great meal for a large family and great protein.

"Farmers need to get confidence, when they get confidence they'll order more hens, but the thing you've got to realise is, if you order a day-old chick now, it's eighteen weeks before they start to lay so it's going to be some more months while it remains this tight.

"It is increasing, we're seeing the numbers starting to increase, but it will be a number of months more before we see a change in that egg supply."