Do you love eggs? Worried about high egg price touching Rs290 per dozen? Don’t know how to deal with the rising food inflation? Do you have a favourable opinion of Kane Williamson or follow rugby? Then just don’t worry and by your own hens. Reason? Well! This is the solution being employed in New Zealand.
Like other parts of the world, New Zealand – a country with a very high per capita egg consumption rate – too has been affected by the rising price of the essential food item as avian flu decimated chicken flocks and fallout from Russia’s war with Ukraine raised the prices of energy and animal feed.
In the United States, egg prices have far surpassed the increase in other grocery items, soaring nearly 60 percent in the 12 months to December compared to the year before. In Japan, wholesale prices have reached a record high.
But according to the CNN, the squeeze in New Zealand has been exacerbated by a change in farming regulations. And rising costs have sparked a frenzy, with people hunting for chickens online so they can secure their own supplies of the pantry staple.
However, the Kiwis deserve a big ovation for going a practical solution. Perhaps, there is a Brendon McCullum – who not only changed the New Zealand cricket but also the entire complexion of the sport around the globe through his aggressive approach – hidden in every New Zealander.
The CNN reported that popular local auction site Trade Me says searches for chickens, and equipment related to caring for them, had spiked 190 percent so far this month, compared to the same period a month ago.
“All the public are now trying to buy chickens for home because they can’t get eggs,” said Ron van Til, a bakery owner near the city of Christchurch, who has had to adjust how he makes his cakes and muffins.
Van Til said his sister was selling “four brand new chickens” on auction through Trade Me, fetching more than double the usual price.
New Zealand’s egg shortage has been linked to a long anticipated change in farming law, which took effect on January 1 this year.
The law prohibits the production of eggs from chickens kept in conventional or “battery cages” — typically cramped metal spaces that do not provide adequate welfare for hens, according to SPCA. That’s why in 2012, the government announced a ban on such facilities.
But “a 10-year transition period away from conventional cages was introduced, to allow egg producers time to shift farming practices,” Peter Hyde, a representative for New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, told CNN in a statement when asked about the current shortage.
“Egg producers had the option to move to colony cages, barns and free-range systems,” added Hyde, the ministry’s acting national manager of animal welfare and national animal identification and tracking compliance.
Van Til, the bakery owner, said his team had swapped out fresh eggs in recipes for alternative ingredients.
The longtime owner of Rangiora Bakery has seen wholesale prices for fresh eggs shoot up about 50% compared to four months ago, leading him to buy more dried eggs instead.
Van Til also pointed to changes at other local eateries, saying some cafes had started taking certain dishes off their menus so “instead of having five breakfast items [with] eggs, you might only have two.”
“And the customer hopefully will pick up pancakes or waffles,” he added. “Or whatever other offerings you come up with.”