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Egg shortage in some supermarkets amid bird flu outbreak and increased demand

Half a million hens have been culled as a result of the outbreak.

Image: Shutterstock/siambizkit

SUPERMARKETS ARE WORKING with suppliers to keep eggs on shelves amid shortages caused by an outbreak of avian flu and a recent increase in demand.

An outbreak of bird flu in the Co Monaghan area, which is the main source of egg supplies in the Republic of Ireland, has resulted in a drop in egg production of at least 10%.

Half a million hens have been culled as a result of the outbreak.

The type of flu in question (low-pathogenic avian influenza of the H6N1 subtype) is not a notifiable disease and has no known public health risk, the Irish Egg Association said.

Eggs are being imported from abroad in a bid to meet the demand.

Aoife Mac Eoin, chief executive of the IEA, said the drop in egg production is estimated to be between 10% and 15%, “although it may be higher, while demand increased by reported figures of more than 30%”.

Mac Eoin said in a statement that these figures are estimates and may change amid an “evolving situation”.

“It is therefore likely that eggs will have to continue to be imported for some time to meet demand.”

Mac Eoin told TheJournal.ie movement restrictions have been imposed “as a precautionary measure on a number of sites, at various stages since the problem first arose, in order to protect other flocks”.

She noted that all poultry owners, including those who keep only one or two birds, are obligated to register their premises with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

“Flock-owners should also regularly monitor their birds for signs of disease. If they suspect avian influenza, they must report it immediately to their veterinarian or to one of the department’s regional veterinary offices,” Mac Eoin said.

Supermarket shelves 

Supermarkets are working with suppliers in a bid to keep eggs on shelves in stores around the country. 

A Lidl spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “As with many Irish retailers, we’ve experienced brief egg supply issues recently across our store network.

“This was due to both an increasing demand for eggs, with more people cooking at home, alongside reported cases of avian influenza in Ireland.”

They added that, “despite these challenges”, the company has worked closely with suppliers and the relevant state bodies to ensure availability of eggs in all stores.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said the supermarket chain is “seeing some level of impact on the supply of commercial eggs as a result of avian flu, which is having an effect across the sector”.

“However, in working with its supplier, who has increased availability of free range eggs, Tesco continues to be able to meet consumer demand,” they stated. 

A spokesperson for Musgrave, which stocks stores such as Supervalu and Centra, said it has been “able to source strong volumes of eggs which meet demand for the most part”.

“In some instances, the full range may not be available as consumer demand has also increased over the past month.”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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