FARM LEADERS have said they are “extremely disappointed” that discounter Lidl has stocked Dutch shell eggs on its shelves in the UK.
The retailer is understood to have supplemented its line of brown British Lion colony eggs with white eggs sourced from the Netherlands in recent weeks.
Coronavirus has led to an unprecedented demand for eggs at retail, but a collapse in foodservice sales.
Lidl said it remained “committed to sourcing eggs from British farms”, but shortages had prompted the move.
A spokesman for the supermarket said: “Due to recent national industry challenges, including Avian Influenza and increases in demand, we are temporarily supplementing our range with one additional line from Europe.
“This is on a short term basis only until normal supply and demand resumes, to ensure that we can maintain availability for customers at this time.”
While the colony egg sector in the UK is understood to have largely been able to divert its supply to retail, Dutch colony farmers have seen their prices collapse.
Enriched colony eggs in the Netherlands have gone from a weekly peak of €1.06/kg on 22 Feb to €0.66/kg on 17 April, with prices recovering slightly since then.
Andrew Joret, British Egg Industry Council chairman, said: “We are extremely disappointed to learn that Lidl has chosen to stock imported eggs, which are not produced to the same high food safety standards of the comprehensive and independently audited Code of Practice for British Lion eggs.
“We are very concerned that vulnerable groups, who cannot obviously see that these eggs are not produced in the UK, could potentially be putting themselves at risk if these eggs make it into their hands.”
Mr Joret added that British Lion eggs were the only ones that the Food Standards Agency says can be eaten runny or raw – and that selling eggs from the Netherlands presented a potential health risk.
“Consumers have become accustomed to the food safety standards of the Lion and expect all major retailers to stock them.
“Unless there is very clear communication in-store, on-shelf and on-pack there is a very real risk that these imported eggs will be bought by and for vulnerable groups and consumed runny.”
The British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association’s Robert Gooch added he was not aware of any current shortages of UK Egg. “We would hope that all retailers would stock British eggs wherever possible.”