Tesco is the latest chain to introduce limits on egg purchases owing to shortages and high costs.
The supermarket told City AM it is introducing a limit of three boxes per customer to prevent shelves going empty.
This comes after the British Egg Council warned the public that a the industry has been dealing with “unprecedented pressures” for months, exacerbated by the energy crisis and avian flu outbreak in the UK.
On seven November, the government told all poultry owners their birds must be housed in doors to prevent the spread of avian flu, amid concerns about shortages for Christmas.
Tesco said it was working with suppliers to ensure customers would be able to buy eggs, while other supermarkets have started importing.
It joins Asda and Lidl in introducing egg-purchasing limits last week, but Sainsbury’s told City A.M. it had not done so.
The chain has ramped up how much it pays farmers for eggs by 40 per cent, with the director of fresh food at Sainsbury’s, saying the company wants to support farmers by “paying them fairly and, as inflationary pressures rise, we continue to do everything we can to help all our suppliers and communities.”
“We understand that farmers who supply our own-brand egg packers are also facing significant challenges and it is clear that this is impacting the number of eggs they are able to produce.”
“To support them we have increased the amount we pay our packers for eggs over the past 12 months, while at the same time remaining focused on keeping prices low for customers.
Sainsbury’s said it has now “increased pay by over the past 12 months to around 40 per cent”, adding that “while we do not buy eggs from farmers directly, we are working very closely with our own-brand packers to ensure farmers are fully supported with this investment.”
“I firmly believe that right now prioritising financial support to our farmers is the right thing to do. It will ensure they have the confidence and resources to be able to invest in ensuring supply for customers both now and in the future.”
In a statement, the British Egg Industry Council said the industry had “been dealing with unprecedented pressures” which have impacted upon producers’ costs.
“With costs soaring, many egg farmers have had no choice but to cease production rather than face the risk of losing money on every egg they produce. This, together with the added strain on supply due to the loss of some hens because of avian influenza, has led to the current shortage of eggs on retail shelves.
Andrew Joret, chairman, said: “While we expect supply to return to normal once cost pressures ease, we don’t know when this will be, and egg packers and producers continue to lose money. We are doing everything we can to ensure that eggs are on the shelves while the industry works with retailers so that it can get back on its feet as quickly as possible.
“Eggs are one of the most nutritious, sustainable foods on the shopping list and they play a crucial role in everyday meals for all the family. It is our absolute priority to ensure that there are enough British eggs for all to enjoy without having to compromise.”
The acute egg shortage has also impacted on pub chain JD Wetherspoon, which has been forced into changing its menu as a result. In a statement, it formed “that there are temporary issues with egg supplies at some Wetherspoon pubs, due to the current national shortage of eggs.
“We are experiencing issues in receiving all the supplies we require to satisfy demand in every pub. This is not specific to Wetherspoon and other hospitality operators and supermarkets are facing similar issues.|
“ At the pubs concerned, customers are being offered alternative items, for example, hash brown, sausage or onion rings where eggs are unavailable.
“ We apologise to customers for any inconvenience.”