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It comes as some retailers were this week reportedly considering egg rationing and importing from Poland due to shortfalls

Shoppers are paying up to 50% more for eggs now than at the start of the year amid reported shortages in the mults.

Just over 40% of the 149 fresh egg SKUs currently sold in the traditional big four, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose have seen price increases of at least 15% between the new year and the first week of November, analysis of Assosia data shows.

Some 12 lines – all standard own label SKUs – have seen price hikes in excess of 30%. Meanwhile, 112 lines have become at least 5% pricier over the course of the year, the data reveals.

The largest price rise was at Asda, where a six-pack of large free-range eggs is 51.4% more expensive than it was at the start of the year, having risen again by 5p last week to £1.65.

The second biggest rise was on a Merevale large free-range egg six-pack sold by Aldi. A 10p hike to £1.49 towards the end of October made the product 50.5% dearer than the start of the year.

A large free-range six-pack sold in Morrisons has seen the third-biggest price move, costing shoppers 45.9% more than at the start of January.

Across the egg category, 20 of the year’s 39 biggest price movers (all of which have seen price hikes of 20% or more) have been subject to at least one price hike over the past month.

The price rises come amid warnings this week of mounting egg shortages in the mults, fears of which were first reported by The Grocer in the spring. Back then, suppliers and industry bodies such as the British Free Range Egg Producers Association warned rising on-farm costs were driving many producers out of business or causing others to decide to pause production.

Some retailers were now considering rationing egg supplies or even importing from Poland to meet shortfalls, according to a report by The Sun this week, in echoes of moves to source from countries such as Spain and Italy at the height of the covid pandemic in the summer of 2020.

A British Egg Industry Council spokesman confirmed some shortages in the major supermarkets, citing contributing factors such as avian flu and cost of production rises – which were being compounded by strong demand and a reduction in the number of colony hens as retailers moved towards cage free systems.

The issues were “not surprising”, considering struggling producers had been calling for greater returns since March, suggested BFREPA CEO Robert Gooch. 

“Price rises are now coming through rapidly, and some of our members have been offered a 15p [farmgate] increase on condition they extend contracts. But it’s been too little, too late.”

Gooch said he was “disappointed” retailers had ignored concerns during the spring that poor returns to producers could ultimately lead to shortages. These warnings could have been pre-empted, with “the harm and damage caused by their inaction in their supply chains [now] significant”.

The BEIC spokesman added: “Supply and demand does fluctuate with eggs, but we expect availability to return to normal levels when cost pressures ease.

“In the meantime, the industry will continue to work closely with retailers to get eggs from the farm onto shelves as quickly as possible to ensure we are able to meet consumer demand for British Lion eggs, which we know is what consumers expect.”