New Zealanders set to secure their own supply of eggs

30-01 | |
New Zealand is among the countries that consume more eggs per person than most. Photo: Leti Kugler
New Zealand is among the countries that consume more eggs per person than most. Photo: Leti Kugler

The price of eggs has increased worldwide – avian influenza has wiped out millions of birds, coupled with a massive hike in the price of energy and feed. While some countries have reported a steeper increase than others, in New Zealand, locals are looking to keep their own backyard birds.

On 1 January, it became unlawful to house hens in cages. This is reportedly adding to the pressures that producers are facing and the Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand says there is currently a shortage of 300,000 hens.

But, New Zealand is among the countries that consume more eggs per person than most, and the recent shortage and price hike of eggs has caused locals to look to secure their own supplies in their own backyards.

Local auction site, Trade Me, said that searches for chickens and for equipment related to keeping chickens had spiked: “Since the start of January, we have seen over 65,000 searches for chickens and other chicken-related items, like feeders, coops and food,” Millie Silvester, a spokesperson for the company, told CNN.

Chicken-keeping concerns raised

This “frenzy” has prompted animal welfare advocates to warn against impulse buying, highlighting that hens live for many years but do not produce an endless supply of eggs. The Trade Me platform has also urged customers to think through any purchases, highlighting the responsibilities of owning chickens.

“Only buy what you need”

New Zealand supermarket chain, Foodstuffs, recently placed temporary limits on how many eggs each customer can buy, while another retailer, Countdown, said it would encourage customers to “only buy what they need”.

Bakeries and cafes must adapt to egg shortage

Bakeries have also struggled with the supply shortage, with some reporting using alternative ingredients and others using more dried eggs as an alternative to fresh eggs. CNN says that some local cafes are even reducing the number of dishes containing fresh eggs on their menus.

Egg price hike in the US, Japan and Malaysia

In the US, the surge in the price of eggs has stood out compared to other grocery items, soaring almost 60% in 2022 compared to 2021, reports CNN. Meanwhile, around 10 million birds in Japan have been culled because of an avian influenza outbreak (58 outbreaks recorded this season), resulting in a record-high wholesale price with no end in sight yet.

CNA reports that the shortage of eggs in Malaysia was reduced to 1 million in December 2022 following imports of eggs from foreign countries. This compares to a shortage of 157 million eggs in November and 118 million eggs in October.

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist
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