Manufacturers are scrambling to secure liquid egg for cakes, quiches and mayonnaise, as the fallout from the EU ban on battery cages reaches “crisis point” and sends prices sky-high.
Whole pasteurised liquid egg has soared by 85% to €2.40/kg since the beginning of the year, and shell eggs for breaking are up 98%, to €2.08/kg [Mintec].
The cost hikes come at a particularly bad time for suppliers, as Easter approaches and demand for eggs and egg-based products is high. Companies are now assessing whether they can reduce the amount of eggs they use or switch to replacement products.
Some have even been forced to look to Australia and the US for alternative supplies, but while eggs from outside the EU are typically cheaper, added transport and duty costs are likely to limit the amount suppliers can source profitably.
For many, trying to push through price increases to retailers is the only option. One cake maker, who uses about 10,000 litres of liquid egg a week, said he had seen wholesale prices rise by 150% overnight after his supplier ripped up existing contracts, citing force majeure. “We were factoring in a 10% cost increase, but this has forced us to negotiate on price increases,” he says. “We’re going to do this in the form of a surcharge, so when the cost ducks down again we can reduce it.”
West Sussex-based Higgidy, which produces quiches and other pastry products, has pledged to continue using free-range eggs despite the shortage, but warned that prices were under pressure. “We’ve managed to absorb price increases in efficiencies, but that has become a lot harder,” said commercial director Mark Campbell.
Prices are expected to ease again after Easter, but anxiety over egg supplies is expected to increase further in the short term - with prices following suit. “This will hit consumers this week or next,” predicted one manufacturing source