‘Massive shortage’ of eggs Australia-wide predicted
IN A HUGE blow to producers of the product, Coles has announced its plan to phase out caged eggs across its stores nationally by 2023.
Egg Farmers Australia said it received word, following a couple of meetings with the supermarket, that this timeline might be extended by two years.
Western Australian branches were the first to implement these changes when they ceased the selling of caged eggs in March last year.
Following this, The West Australian Newspaper reported a shortage in all kinds of eggs, with shelves running close to bare towards the end of last year.
According to Egg Farmers Australia CEO Melinda Hashimoto, when implemented in Queensland, this change would have a huge impact on Central Queensland farmers and shoppers alike.
"According to the CSIRO, around 40 per cent of all eggs sold in Australian supermarkets are caged," she said.
"Therefore, it is not hard to work out that if caged eggs were suddenly removed retailers would never have enough eggs to satisfy consumer demand and the cost of a carton of eggs would skyrocket beyond affordable beliefs."
The flow-on effects of the move could be felt locally with a number of producers supplying caged eggs.
Egg Farmers Australia chairman (and egg farmer) Bede Burke said supermarkets were more interested in marketing themselves as 'good social citizens', than understanding the facts about caged hens.
"Caged egg production has moved a long way forward from the old battery hens seen in the 1970s," Mr Burke said.
"That method no longer exists in Australia."
Mr Burke predicts a huge loss in Australian egg supply should this plan go ahead.
"Currently, to maintain a reliable supply chain of fresh eggs for Aussie consumers, our egg industry needs to introduce 600,000 additional hens into the Australian egg production line every year," he said.
"Without caged eggs, this figure could not be achieved, resulting in a mass shortage of eggs Australia-wide."
In saying this, Mr Burke said Egg Farmers of Australia, does support a cap on the current number of conventional cages used in Australia.
"Egg Farmers of Australia has made a commitment that in the longer-term future there will be no additional conventional cages added to the current egg production cycle within Australia," Mr Burke said.
The rule will coincide with the adoption of new animal welfare standards and guidelines currently under government review.