Isn't it always the case: there is the good news and the bad news. The good news is that as of January 1, 2012, the UK has banned the use of caged chickens. All eggs in the European Union (EU) are supposed to be hatched by hens kept in free-range barns or "enriched" cages.
And the bad news: egg shortages and massive increases in the price of eggs as a result of this implementation of the EU ordinance.The price of eggs on the EU wholesale market has nearly quadrupled over the past week as food manufacturers are struggling to find approved eggs.
The price for processed liquid and powdered egg has jumped by 70 per cent in recent weeks. These are used for cakes, cookies, pasta and pies, which will end up being more expensive as a result. Food manufacturers are not permitted to get their eggs from non-compliant countries. However, according to the Guardian, some say that they may have to start importing processed eggs from Mexico, Brazil and India. This was not supposed to be the result of the ban.
Worryingly, it is predicted that the amount of British eggs will decrease by 5% this year, as it will in Europe.
According to the Guardian, one insider said "It's now no longer a question of price, it's a question of supply, I estimate that within three to four weeks some companies will be at breaking point."
In France the hysteria is growing because it is "claimed that cake and brioche manufacturers may soon be forced to shut down." The French have lost 10% of egg production: that's 21M eggs a week. Mon dieu.
The problem is that many egg producers have not been able to afford the cost of the new pens which are required. In Spain there has been slaughtering of flocks and over night the country has changed from being an exporter of eggs to being an importer.
Supermarkets are loathe to raise the price of eggs in the shops, so the small egg producers are taking a loss. Even when stores do raise their prices, this is not passed on to the farmers. According to the Farmers Weekly, increases in costs, particularly feed, means most free-range producers are losing money already. They say that "Unless the price for eggs paid to free-range egg farmers increases immediately and significantly, it is a sad fact that British consumers will go short of British free-range eggs."