Waitrose says it WON’T ration eggs and earmarks £2.6m for chicken farmers

Waitrose will hand over £2.6 million to its egg supply chain as it says it will not follow other supermarkets in rationing the peeled foods.

Marks & Spencer and Morrisons have become the latest grocers to join Tesco, Asda and Lidl in rationing box sales as the effects of rising costs and bird flu continue to take their toll.

But Waitrose said it has no plans to introduce such limits, adding it is confident it has “a wide availability of UK free range eggs available for purchase both online and in our stores”.

The National Farmers’ Union has warned that shortages of eggs on supermarket shelves could continue well into next summer unless supply chain issues are resolved

Sainsbury’s and the Co-op have not introduced limits either, with the Co-op saying it will continue to monitor the situation.

Waitrose said the £2.6m investment will go directly to farmers to support them with rising production costs, such as energy and chicken feed.

Waitrose director James Bailey said: ‘We cannot function as a business without our farmers. We’ve built long-standing relationships with our suppliers, and paying our farmers fairly and offering our customers free-range English eggs are commitments we simply won’t sacrifice, even when the going gets tough.

Waitrose has bucked the trend, saying it will not introduce rationing, investing instead

Waitrose has bucked the trend, saying it will not introduce rationing, investing instead

It means that customers in the supermarket do not have to limit how many eggs they buy

It means that customers in the supermarket do not have to limit how many eggs they buy

It means that customers in the supermarket do not have to limit how many eggs they buy

Market leaders have accused supermarkets of not paying a fair price for eggs - saying this is one of the main reasons for the shortages.  They are rationed at Asda (pictured)

Market leaders have accused supermarkets of not paying a fair price for eggs - saying this is one of the main reasons for the shortages.  They are rationed at Asda (pictured)

Market leaders have accused supermarkets of not paying a fair price for eggs – saying this is one of the main reasons for the shortages. They are rationed at Asda (pictured)

“We still have a good supply of 100% UK free range eggs, which we believe is partly a testament to these strong relationships and our commitment to our farmers.

“With shortages elsewhere in the market, we’ve seen a slight increase in demand, but we’re working hard to ensure we continue to have quality, high-wellness products on our shelves.”

Earlier this month, Asda and Lidl announced limits on egg purchases in some of their stores, followed by Tesco, M&S and Morrisons in recent days.

The UK is facing its biggest avian flu ever, exacerbating existing deficits caused by producers scaling back production or leaving the industry over higher costs, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine driving up farmers’ energy bills along with the cost of chicken feed. chickens and packaging.

Demand for eggs has also increased as consumers look for cheaper sources of protein to offset rising food bills.

M&S, which has been limiting customers to two cartons since Friday, said: ‘As a private label retailer, we benefit from direct and longstanding relationships with our trusted suppliers and have worked hard with them to ensure good availability of UK free-range eggs for our customers.

Supermarkets have increased the price of a dozen eggs by an average of more than 50 pence since the start of the year, while farmers have only received a price hike of just 18 pence

Supermarkets have increased the price of a dozen eggs by an average of more than 50 pence since the start of the year, while farmers have only received a price hike of just 18 pence

Supermarkets have increased the price of a dozen eggs by an average of more than 50 pence since the start of the year, while farmers have only received a price hike of just 18 pence

M&S and Morrisons, along with Tesco (pictured), Asda and Lidl, have rationed box sales in their stores

M&S and Morrisons, along with Tesco (pictured), Asda and Lidl, have rationed box sales in their stores

M&S and Morrisons, along with Tesco (pictured), Asda and Lidl, have rationed box sales in their stores

Egg shortages could extend into next summer as farmers deal with avian flu, inflation and rising energy costs

Egg shortages could extend into next summer as farmers deal with avian flu, inflation and rising energy costs

Egg shortages could extend into next summer as farmers deal with avian flu, inflation and rising energy costs

“We have provided additional support, including for animal nutrition, to help suppliers manage rising costs.

‘While we have a good supply of UK free range eggs, given the recent peak in demand we are limiting eggs to a maximum of two packs per customer. This is to ensure fair availability for all customers and there is now signage in the store.”

A spokeswoman for Morrisons said: ‘At the end of last week we saw unprecedented demand for our eggs and are now introducing a two-pack cap. We recommend that customers buy only what they need so that stock returns to normal as soon as possible.

‘All the eggs we sell are British and the vast majority come from our own egg packing site in North Yorkshire.’

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for an “urgent investigation” into the disruption of the egg supply chain.

The NFU said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) should look into making a statement under the 2020 Agriculture Act to ensure “much-needed support” for egg producers.

The government said the situation was being monitored, but stressed that Britain’s food supply chain is “resilient” and no “significant impact” is generally expected.

Richard Crampton, Director of Fresh Foods at Sainsbury’s, said: ‘We understand that farmers who supply our own brand egg packers also face significant challenges and it is clear that this will affect the number of eggs they can produce.

“To support them, we have increased the amount we pay our packers for eggs over the past 12 months, while at the same time remaining focused on keeping prices low for customers.

“In response to high inflation in June, we accelerated our support, increasing the amount we pay for eggs by 20%, and last week we doubled this investment and paid an additional 20%.

“This brings us to a total of about 40% over the past 12 months.”

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