Although the cost of practically everything in supermarkets around the world has been trending upward as global inflation rates remain at near-record highs, eggs have seen a particularly significant price increase.
For residents of the United Kingdom, this staple could become even more expensive amid concerns about the spread of bird flu.
According to recent U.S. statistics, the cost of a dozen eggs jumped by 10% in October alone — the biggest increase of any grocery item. While much of that is attributable to the unrelenting impact of inflation, experts say bird flu, which has decimated the supply of egg-laying fowl, is also a major contributing factor.
Increased demand for food at grocery stores is one factor that has likely contributed to higher #FoodPrices. For example, supply disruptions caused egg prices to increase 60%. Now, consumers have responded by purchasing fewer eggs. Read more: https://t.co/FWh39yZPKQ #EconTwitter pic.twitter.com/cgBUQ3TOF0
— Kansas City Fed (@KansasCityFed) November 16, 2022
Now, U.K. supermarkets are beginning to ration the supply of eggs. Limiting the supply in such a way is likely to send costs soaring even higher.
Nevertheless, farmers across the country say they have no alternative to limiting the supply. Furthermore, many egg producers indicate that they see no financial upside to the fact that retailers are raising prices for consumers.
With millions of hens wiped out due to an especially harsh outbreak of bird flu, the demand for fresh eggs has only increased. Unable to provide as many cartons as customers want to purchase, multiple U.K. supermarket chains have been plagued with shortages in recent weeks.
In an effort to avoid selling out of eggs, two such chains — Asda and Lidl — are limiting the amount that individual shoppers can purchase.
The disruption is impacting more than just home cooks. A number of popular restaurants have been forced to remove eggs from their menus, even replacing the central ingredient from breakfast plates and other dishes.
The most acute impact from the egg shortage and rising grocery prices in general will continue to be felt by low-income families already struggling to make ends meet. In England and elsewhere around the world, that group is steadily growing in number.
As one food bank operator in the British town of Blackburn explained: “Although we have a large portion of people referred to us who are on benefits, we are seeing more and more people who are working, but whose wages have not increased in line with the rise in the cost of food, fuel, and other items needed for a basic living standard.”