Egg prices have soared around the world over the past year as avian flu kills chickens The flock and the aftermath of Russia’s war with Ukraine have raised the price of energy and animal feed.
In the U.S., egg prices have risen far more than other grocery items, surging nearly 60% in the 12 months to December compared with a year earlier. In Japan, wholesale prices hit record highs.
In New Zealand, where per capita egg consumption exceeds most countries, changes in farm regulations have exacerbated the tightening. Rising costs have sparked a frenzy as people seek out chicken online so they can secure their own food supplies.
Searches for chickens and equipment related to caring for them have soared 190% so far this month, compared with the same period a month ago, Trade Me, a popular local auction site, told CNN on Tuesday.
“Since early January, we’ve seen more than 65,000 searches for chickens and other chicken-related items such as feeders, coops and food,” said company spokeswoman Millie Sylvester.
There are also shortages It’s causing a particularly severe headache for the country’s bakers.
Ron van Til, owner of a bakery near Christchurch, said: “Now all the public wants to buy chickens because they can’t get eggs.” Who Had to adjust the way he makes cakes and muffins.
Van Til said his sister was auctioning “four brand new chickens” through Trade Me for more than double the usual price.
The trend has prompted animal welfare advocates to warn against impulse buying.
“Chickens have a long lifespan,” says Gabby Clezy, chief executive of the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). “They live for eight to 10 years, sometimes even longer, depending on the species.”
Clezy also points out that hens do not lay eggs for life, and their egg-laying habits depend on factors such as age and local climate.
“So if people just because [they think] They’ll have a permanent supply of eggs, but that’s not the case,” she said. “We’re asking people to think of them as companion animals, and they are. ”
Trade Me also urges customers on its marketplace to carefully consider all purchases.
“It’s important that our members realize the responsibilities that come with owning chickens and are prepared to care for them,” Sylvester said in a statement.
Health experts are also weighing. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone who registers for a backyard chicken coop should take extreme care when handling the animals and their eggs, especially because of the risk of bacteria associated with salmonella.
New Zealand’s egg shortage is linked to long-awaited changes to farm laws, which came into effect on January 1 this year.
According to the SPCA, chickens raised in conventional or “battery cages” are legally prohibited from producing eggs — typically cramped metal spaces that don’t provide adequate welfare for hens.
That’s why, in 2012, the government announced a ban on such facilities.
But MPI representative Peter Hyde told CNN in a statement that when asked about the current shortage, “a 10-year transition period was introduced to give egg producers time to Change the way of farming”.
“Egg producers have the option to move to group cages, barns and free-range systems,” added Hyde, the department’s acting national manager for animal welfare and national animal identification and tracking compliance.
Over the past 18 months, Hyde said, the ministry “has been in regular contact with operators and has visited farms in need of transformation.”
However, according to some businesses, the ban has led to night supplies, even with long delivery times.
New Zealand supermarket chain Foodstuffs recently temporarily limited the number of eggs each customer can buy.
“This is a significant change for the egg supply industry,” Emma Wooster, the company’s director of public relations, told CNN in a statement. “We are working with egg suppliers to increase our offer for other types of eggs.”
Countdown, another large grocery retailer, said that while there are currently no restrictions on egg sales, it would encourage customers to “only buy what they need” to ensure everyone has enough supplies.
Other businesses were forced to change the status quo.
Bakery owner Van Til said his team has replaced the fresh eggs in the recipe with alternative ingredients.
The longtime Rangiora Bakery owner has seen wholesale prices for fresh eggs rise by about 50 per cent compared with four months ago, leading him to switch to buying more dry eggs.
Van Til also pointed to changes at other restaurants in the area, saying some cafés had begun removing certain dishes from their menus so that “breakfast is no longer a five-course meal. [with] Eggs, you may only have two. ”
“Hopefully customers will choose pancakes or waffles,” he added. “Or whatever other product you come up with.”