Australian egg farmers are keen to reassure customers there is no need to fear egg shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Retailers have limited egg purchases alongside other household staples in response to panic buying but any absence of eggs in stores is purely demand driven, and not a reflection of the continuity of supply.
The industry says that to date, there has been no impact on egg production or supply. Australia’s 21 million hens are still laying eggs and farmers are working around the clock to get those eggs to their customers.
Like any other industry, egg farmers are concerned about the potential impact of coronavirus on their staff and wider supply chains but there have been no reports of disruptions so far.
The government has recognised how important it is that essential services like food industries continue to operate and the industry is working with authorities to ensure measures put in place to protect public health can still ensure a steady supply of eggs.
Individual egg farms are also reconfiguring their operations to minimise the risk that one infected employee could disrupt a whole farm.
The industry is also at pains to point out that the welfare of hens is not being compromised and that the public should be aware that battery cages no longer exist and are illegal.
NSW Farmers Egg Committee Chair Brett Langfield said single caged hens are a production system of the past.
“The conventional cages used today are more akin to social housing for hens,” Mr Langfield said. “Those wanting to phase out caged hens entirely could be responsible for leaving the country in short supply of eggs should disease outbreaks such as Avian Influenza or Salmonella Enteritidis hit Australia’s flock.”
CEO of Egg Farmers of Australia, Melinda Hashimoto, said comments from the Animal Justice Party show that they finally understand that a controlled, indoor environment helps stop the spread of disease.
“This is exactly the case for the production system of caged hens that do not have to compete against the elements and have fewer risks of disease impacts,” Ms Hashimoto said.