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Sustainability Quiz 38: Free Range Egg Sales

Sustainability Quiz 38: Free Range Egg Sales

Sustainability Quiz 38: Under the shadows of COVID and our crazy weather, eggs are scarce on supermarket shelves, but the scarity belies a very positive consumer shift

We became used to grocery shortages throughout the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. These were due to changes in buying patterns, stockpiling and panic-buying. Eggs were temporarily part of this, along with flour, as people at home got baking. Food delivery, food boxes and home cooking exploded for a time.

Attitudes to free range versus caged chicken eggs are changing for the good. What percentage of  eggs sold are now free range eggs?

With lockdowns long past, what’s causing this egg shortage now?

Our current egg shortage reflects a long-term trend in egg-buying preferences, with a shift to free-range eggs. More of us are simply buying free range. So, in this little sector, ironically, it’s not just wars, climate and COVID affecting egg supply chains. It’s because more of us buying free range.

Free Range Egg production is more affected by the colder, shorter days of winter and free range hens lay less eggs than caged on average and are less consistent layers. Free-range hens are affected by hot or cold temperatures, wind and rain, and length of daylight. In winter months they have less energy and produce (on average) 20% fewer eggs than a chicken confined indoors in controlled conditions.

We've been slowly increasing our shift to free range

Australians consume about 17 million eggs every day. In the 2020-21 financial year, egg farmers produced about 6.3 billion eggs. Of those, 52% were free-range. This compares to about 38% a decade ago.

What can you do?

Keep it up! The more Free Range we all buy, the more farmers will invest in them. Free range costs a teeny bit more, but the good news is that more and more of us are prepared to pay the small price.

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