Why is there an egg shortage? Shoppers report empty shelves at supermarkets

Shoppers have reported seeing empty egg shelves at supermarkets (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Shoppers have reported seeing empty egg shelves at supermarkets (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Shoppers are being met with empty shelves as supermarkets ration supplies amid an egg shortage.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco customers have reported being unable to buy eggs, while a branch of Lidl is reportedly allowing customers to buy up to three boxes at a time.

Meanwhile, a branch of pub chain Wetherspoons is reportedly serving full English breakfasts without eggs.

A number of factors, including food shortages, rising energy costs, and bird flu, are contributing to the egg shortage.

Why is there an egg shortage?

Egg farmers are struggling to make enough money amid feed shortages and rising energy costs.

As per the Daily Mail, the British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association (BFREPA) said: “We warned 10 months ago that producers would pause or halt production if they weren’t paid a fair price for their product, and that the knock-on effect would be fewer hens and fewer eggs.”

In August, BFREPA called for more support for egg producers amid a chicken-feed shortage caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In July, Farming UK reported that BFREPA had warned that unless egg producers received 40p more per dozen eggs, that some would leave the industry or pause production, resulting in egg shortages in six to nine months.

Want to keep your own hens? Here are the EGGSENTIALS...

Where to buy chickens: The British Hen Welfare Trust asks for a £5 donation per chicken you rehome. Or you can buy a couple of chickens, for about £20 each, from a local breeder. Make sure they’re about 16 weeks old and ready to lay eggs — and female of course. You don’t need a cockerel, which can be very noisy. (Juliet Murphy)
Where to buy chickens: The British Hen Welfare Trust asks for a £5 donation per chicken you rehome. Or you can buy a couple of chickens, for about £20 each, from a local breeder. Make sure they’re about 16 weeks old and ready to lay eggs — and female of course. You don’t need a cockerel, which can be very noisy. (Juliet Murphy)
Chicken coops:
Chicken coops:
Caring for your chickens: Keep them in their coop for the first five to seven days so they know it’s their home. Make sure they have enough food and water every morning and let them out to roam in the garden when you are there. Layer the tray at the bottom of the coop with newspaper and you’ll only need to clean it once a week. Put the soiled newspaper in the bin or on the compost heap. (Juliet Murphy)
Caring for your chickens: Keep them in their coop for the first five to seven days so they know it’s their home. Make sure they have enough food and water every morning and let them out to roam in the garden when you are there. Layer the tray at the bottom of the coop with newspaper and you’ll only need to clean it once a week. Put the soiled newspaper in the bin or on the compost heap. (Juliet Murphy)
Be warned: They’ll trash the garden. Consider rotating their living quarters between several spots in the garden to give each area the chance to recover. If you have the room, give them a permanent space with dust and wood chippings (Juliet Murphy)
Be warned: They’ll trash the garden. Consider rotating their living quarters between several spots in the garden to give each area the chance to recover. If you have the room, give them a permanent space with dust and wood chippings (Juliet Murphy)
Legalities: You don’t need a licence to keep hens unless you’ve more than 50, but it’s advisable to register with the <a href=
Legalities: You don’t need a licence to keep hens unless you’ve more than 50, but it’s advisable to register with the

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which will email you with regulation updates, such as warnings and advice during a bird flu outbreak. (Juliet Murphy)" />

BFREPA chief executive Robert Gooch told Farming UK: “We welcome the small rise in egg prices in supermarkets but it needs to go further and the money needs to make its way to farmers, not into the pockets of the supermarkets and the egg packers.

“Not one retailer has done what was asked and increased egg prices by 40p. Only then will many producers be able to break even."

Additionally, an avian flu outbreak is affecting poultry in the UK, with more than 200 cases identified since October 2021. More than 70 premises have reported detecting the disease since October 2022.

Since November 7, bird keepers in England have been required to keep all poultry and captive birds inside to protect their flocks from disease. Many infected birds have also been culled.

The United Kingdom’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said in a statement: “We are now facing this year, the largest-ever outbreak of bird flu, and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England.

“The risk of kept birds being exposed to disease has reached a point where it is now necessary for all birds to be housed until further notice.”

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), said that it believes the "impact on overall supply would likely be minimal,” according to Sky News.

A spokesperson added: “We understand the difficulties that rising costs, combined with the bird-flu outbreak, are causing for farmers and we are working with industry to monitor the egg market.”