Shoppers may soon be left in a scramble as the price of eggs is set to skyrocket due to a proposed national plan to stop selling caged-eggs.
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poutly had previously recommended phasing out caged eggs by 2024, however, Australia’s agriculture ministers are scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 13, to discuss the possibility of bringing the ban forward by 10 years to 2036.
The move would see the price of the breakfast staple go from an average of $8 to $9 a carton of dozen to a whopping $15.
Concerned egg farmers are expecting the ministers to support the recommendation and have warned that the sudden date shift would dramatically reduce the number of eggs local farmers will be able to produce.
Brett Langfild, owner of LPC Eggs, told the Daily Telegraph that while 70 per cent of his chickens are free-ranged, transitioning the remaining 30 per cent caged chickens would cost him $20 million.
“We have no certainty about the future of our industry, we want some clarity about what we should be doing in the next 12 years,” Langfield said.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we need to import whole eggs because we can’t produce enough. We should never do that due to biosecurity reasons.
“I don’t believe the consumer is fully aware that their low cost protein source in eggs could substantially get more expensive based on decisions governments make now.”
Supermarket giants Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi have already started to transition their egg range to cage-free after doing so with their own eggs years prior.
Speaking to 7News, a Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket is committed to selling “100 per cent” cage-free eggs.
“We announced our plans to transition our entire egg range to cage-free back in 2013, and we’re working closely with our suppliers to gradually phase out caged eggs from all the brands we sell by 2025, we know many retailers and hospitality operators are moving in a similar direction,” they said.
“We understand a change like this takes time, and that’s why we’ve consulted with our suppliers to ensure they have sufficient time to make changes to their production methods.”
While animal advocates have argued that Australia is behind countries like New Zealand in banning caged egg farming, Opposition agriculture spokesman Dugald Saunders has fired back saying the ban would cause a “crisis”.
“We can’t end up like New Zealand where they banned caged eggs and are now facing a supply crisis,” he said.
“A proposed ban would increase the price of eggs during a cost-of-living crisis and send egg farmers to the wall.”
Eggs aren’t the only grocery item that’s seen a recent price increase. Following a comprehensive analysis of grocery prices across the country, Frugl Grocery Price Index found that annual grocery price inflation had risen to a record high of 9.49 per cent with the largest price increases being found in items such as dairy and eggs which saw an increase of 9.05 per cent and bread and bakery items at 4.94 per cent.
Alarmingly, the report also found that older demographics were facing the steepest price rises both annually and quarterly, with pensioners faced with a 15.31 per cent increase annually and a 3.92 per cent rise quarterly in the cost of food.