Fears are growing that egg prices could rise as European supplies are sent to the US after a massive bird flu outbreak.
Bakery wholesaler BFP said it had seen a rise in chilled egg prices of more than 25% and in frozen eggs of more than 20% since mid-June.
The US has lost around 40 million laying hens – around 15% of its national flock to bird flu this summer and to address the severe shortages in the US, some of the EU’s production is being diverted and this is beginning to cause some supply disruption in the EU.
Elwyn Griffiths, chairman of the British Egg Products Association, said: “To put this into context, the production that the US has lost is far greater than total UK production. We are seeing the start of some significant supply issues within the EU. As repopulation will take many months, we believe that it will be some time before we see supply return to normal.”
Neil Davey, commercial manager of BFP, told British Baker it could be “six months or so” until the US recovered from the outbreak. He warned smaller bakers to watch wastage, only order what was needed and consider moving to frozen for a longer shelf-life.
He reminded bakers that buying in bulk brings greater savings.
Davey said: “[The price] will continue to rise. It is a global market and therefore British bakers are at its mercy. It is worth remembering that, over the last year or so, there has been massive cost deflation in other commodities, like sugar and fats, so while egg is an issue, it is part of a bigger scheme.”
Meanwhile, Hall said he had switched to frozen egg, costing £1.03 per kilo rather than chilled egg at £1.10 a kilo. “We have had to increase our order (on frozen),” he added.
“We normally buy a quarter or half a tonne, so have doubled or quadrupled. The price was going up and up and we are in a position where we cannot pass costs on. When commodities change, you have got to think outside the box and keep the price the same. It is tying up a freezer that we’d prefer to use for other things.”
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