Free-range egg supply a concern for Dunedin businesses

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ
Dunedin businesses are concerned about rising costs if others knock on the doors of their free-range egg suppliers.

Battery cages have been banned since the start of the year, causing a shortage of eggs at supermarkets, where purchase limits have been in place.

The effects seem to  be felt mainly by individual consumers,  local businesses continuing with a steady supply.

However, many eatery owners who use free-range eggs are concerned businesses which used to buy cage eggs will soon be stepping on their toes.

Ironic co-owner Stephen Wilson said he ordered more free-range eggs than usual in case of a spike in demand.

His business went through more than 2400 eggs a week.

It had been exploring alternative options to their dishes in case a shortage did hit.

However, a lot of people expected eggs Benedict in the morning and it would be a struggle to replicate that dish.

He was confident the issue of supply would work out as producers increased their flocks, but he was worried about what would happen in the meantime.

It was good many students were still out of the city, as they constituted a huge demand on Dunedin's food supply, he said.

No7 Balmac and The Esplanade owner Katrina Toovey said she was worried those who previously used cage eggs would rush to get in with her supplier.

The Esplanade was an Italian restaurant which made its own pasta, a process which involved a lot of eggs, she said.

Using free range was essential to getting a good flavour and colour to the pasta, she said.

She had had no issues with supply so far.

The Tart Tin founder Matt Cross had similar feelings.

He said he was concerned  he would not be able to get enough eggs when the business resumed production in February.

It would take many months for egg production to increase to normal levels and he believed many people would be looking for bulk quantities of eggs wherever they could find them, including in the free-range market.

Biggie's Pizza and Suburbia Eatery & Nightlife director Ian Lindsay said, while the business did not buy free-range eggs,  he had been facing issues meeting his demand lately.

Keto pizza bases used a lot of eggs and the price had been shooting up in the past few months.

He could not increase the price of his  pizzas any more, so it meant  his business earned less on each sale.

"You can't price yourself out of the market."

Cowell's Genuine Pavlova director Matthew Heaton said his Dunedin supplier had no issues supplying enough eggs before Christmas and gave  no indication  shortages would be coming.

While RNZ reported earlier this week Mr Heaton was considering looking into importing egg white from overseas, he clarified that would be a last option.

The main production period was in the months before Christmas and  egg producers should have increased their flocks by then and solved the issues, he said.