Amidst the devastating spread of avian flu in the poultry sector, consumers are facing the consequences of significantly higher egg prices, putting an unexpected strain on their finances.

By Lezeth Khoza

Due to the recent outbreak of highly contagious avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, which can quickly spread within a flock and result in a high death rate, retailers have implemented limitations on the number of eggs customers can buy.

Approximately 7 million chickens have been culled to contain the highly contagious flu outbreak, which is considered one of the most severe in recent times. As a result, there are predictions of a significant increase in the price of chicken.

The Telegram visited a couple of supermarkets in Daveyton Mall and Lakeside Mall. We observed that some stores had empty shelves where the eggs should have been. Since we couldn’t find any eggs, we approached a staff member at Pick ‘n Pay for assistance.

He explained that the store had been out of eggs for several days.

“Our shelves are all empty. I have been seeing news reports on the television, but I honestly did not realise that it was this bad,” he said.

The Shoprite supermarket was also experiencing a shortage of eggs, and the shelves that used to be filled with this popular breakfast protein were now filled with cartons of milk.

Customers are now facing higher prices for eggs at retailers who still have them in stock. Many financially struggling consumers, particularly those who are poor, are finding it difficult to afford eggs and some are even choosing to go without them for the time being.

Bongiwe Khumalo, like numerous other consumers, has decided to temporarily forgo purchasing eggs and instead focus on purchasing chicken due to the perceived stability in prices.

“The chicken was normal price, I usually go for fresh chicken and never a braai pack. The price of eggs, however, made me dizzy. I usually buy 30 eggs for the price of R68 at Pick ‘n Pay, they are now R100. I can live without them for the next coming months,” she said.

The challenges faced by economically disadvantaged consumers are universal, even in townships where the community heavily relies on spaza shops. Our snap survey revealed that the price of eggs has increased from R2.50 to R3.50 due to the outbreak of avian flu.

However, most of the spaza shops are currently experiencing a shortage of eggs. As a result, shop owners who do have eggs in stock have strategically positioned them near the payment area to deter potential incidents of theft.

The current situation is so dire that spaza shop owners have implemented a temporary policy of not accepting walk-in customers until the egg crisis has been resolved.

“The shop is small, and it often gets crowded at certain hours, people sometimes shoplift. I am trying to make some profit with the little stock of eggs I received from my supplier this week, so I am not allowing them in, ” said a spaza shop owner, who preferred not to disclose his identity.

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