Empty shelves at Coles spark fresh fears of egg shortage

Aussie shoppers have raised concerns about a lack of eggs at their local supermarkets with a major shift underway.

A photo of empty shelves at Coles has raised concern among Aussie supermarket shoppers about the supply of eggs in the country.

Sharing a snap of the bare eggs section at the Coles Sippy Downs branch in Queensland, a Sunshine Coast resident questioned whether or not there is an egg shortage in Australia.

"Is this a trend or anomaly?" the Queenslander asked Reddit users under the caption: "Egg shortage?"

Empty Coles shelves; Egg cartons on supermarket shelf pictured.
The disappearance of eggs from Coles and some other supermarkets is prompting Aussies to question whether there is a shortage they need to worry about. Source: Reddit, Getty

Many online confirmed the issue is the same at their local Coles branch, while others said they've encountered the same problem at Aldi supermarkets and in other states.

"What's the explanation though? Supply or logistics? I know there's a shortage of truck drivers," a baffled user asked.

Not all supermarkets are affected by the problem, however, as other users reported that they have no egg supply issues at their local Woolworths or IGA stores.

Coles, Aldi address supply issue

Speaking to Yahoo News, a Coles spokesperson didn't deny the egg shortage but stated, "We're continuing to monitor supply and are working hard with our suppliers to improve availability for our customers."

The spokesperson added that the supply issue is a result of several factors. "We know that the Australian egg market is under pressure due to cooler weather, high feed and input costs, along with significant outbreaks of avian influenza in Europe and North America, resulting in a decrease in global supply," he explained.

A spokesperson for Aldi also addressed egg shortages in a statement provided to Yahoo News. "Like other retailers, we are working with our supplier partners to balance egg supply so that customers will see a return to regular stock levels as soon as possible," the statement reads.

Shift from cage eggs to blame?

Some Aussies were of the opinion that there are other factors involved as well. "Supply problems trend as we move more towards cage-free eggs. Been happening randomly in Canberra as well," an ACT resident chimed in, highlighting the recent shift to free-range and barn-laid eggs by Woolworths and Coles.

Both supermarket chains have committed to phase out cage eggs by 2025, aiming to end the practice of keeping poultry in battery cages. With that process already underway, that means shoppers have seen prices go from about $4 a dozen for caged eggs to $8 or $9 for the free range alternative, the ABC reported in June, adding to the cost of living crunch felt at the checkout.

Battery hens pictured in their cages after Coles and Woolworths promised to move away from the practice.
Both Coles and Woolies are phasing out cage eggs to reduce their dependence on battery farms. Source: Getty

Coles, for one, says it has committed to working towards a "sustainable future that supports local farmers and food producers, while also looking after the welfare of animals". The number of welfare issues associated with caged egg production is why Coles aligned with the retail industry's 2025 cage-free target.

"You'd be hard pressed" to find caged eggs on a shelf in Coles or Woolworths, Pure Foods Eggs chief executive Kate Daley told the ABC.

Woolworths, which previously stated that it does not see the move away from cage eggs kicking off a supply issue, explained that there is a variety of reasons behind the reduction of egg supplies.

"Across the market, in both retail and hospitality, egg supply has been reduced over the last 18 months due to a range of factors, including weather, on-farm and input costs," a Woolworths spokesperson said.

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