Food And Beverage
The plight of the humble egg in the United Kingdom exemplifies the devastation caused by rampant inflation. As a result of the war in Ukraine driving up the price of energy and chicken feed, farmers claim they are no longer compensated adequately, upending the economics of a crucial food staple.
Many of the nation's supermarkets, including market leader Tesco and No. 3 Asda, have rationed sales, citing the outbreak of bird flu that has decimated flocks in Europe and the United States as the cause of a shortage in the United Kingdom.
However, British farmers argue that while the outbreak is a factor, there are not enough eggs because they lose money on every carton sold, causing many to reduce production and others to abandon the industry altogether.
The association estimates that the total number of laying hens in the United Kingdom fell by 6% to 36.4 million over the past year, indicating an even tighter supply in the future.
Due to consumer demand, British egg producers have focused on free-range eggs for years, which now account for 70 percent of the market. Due to the fact that only 13% of eggs in the European Union are free-range, it is difficult to fill the gaps on British supermarket shelves with imports.
While double-digit inflation has strained the relationship between producers and retailers worldwide, intense competition among British food retailers has kept prices below European averages and profit margins among the lowest in the world. This, coupled with a cost-of-living crisis fueled by rising food and energy prices, restricts retailers' room for maneuver, they say.