“Go to work on an egg” was the Egg Marketing Board’s slogan in the 1950s and this most versatile of products has been a staple of Scottish kitchens for as long as anyone can remember.
But north and north-east egg producers and sellers are warily eyeing worrying developments in the continuing bird flu crisis which has seen millions of birds culled this year alone.
As if this wasn’t concerning enough, the huge rise in bird feed costs and soaring energy bills are presenting producers with an unenviable headache just as demand increases shortly before Christmas.
Here is our list of where you can buy eggs in the north and north-east that support producers directly.
Ord of Cardno, Fraserburgh, AB43 7BQ
Alan and Helen Davidson have run Davidsons Eggs for the past 18 years.
The couple have 5,000 hens and 600-700 ducks on-site at their farm in Ord of Carno in Fraserburgh.
They supply a number of small shops, hotels and undertake door sales in the surrounding areas. There is also a van which delivers twice a week to Aberdeen.
Mr Davidson said: “We deliver to Fraserburgh and the surrounding villages, including Peterhead. “We do go to Aberdeen twice a week.
“People can also knock on the house door if they are wanting eggs. We’ve definitely not got a shortage here. Fortunately we’ve got plenty.”
We are trying to do our best”
Speaking about recent cases of bird flu he said: “It’s a constant worry. We are trying to do our best.
“We watch that a lorry doesn’t go from one poultry farm to another. They are told not to come here for a few days if they have been to another one.
“It’s a case of doing what we can.”
Lower Mill of Tynet, Buckie, AB56 5HJ
Based between Fochabers and Buckie just of the A98, Highland Eggs at Lower Mill of Tynet supplies a range of retail outlets in Banff, Moray and the Highlands, but customers can buy direct from the farm from a daily-stocked vending machine.
For larger orders, local caterers, hotels and bakeries also order direct from the farm.
Run by Gordon Whiteford, Highland Eggs secured support from the Prince’s Trust to start the organic business.
A tenancy with Crown Estates has meant he has been able to build a packing facility on Lower Mill of Tynet farm allowing him to be in charge of the whole process.
Mr Whiteford said: “It is only England that is in lockdown at the moment – Scotland has not had to have a (bird) housing order yet.
This is as serious as it has ever been”
“It will most definitely come in but the Scottish government is dragging its heels. This is as serious as it has ever been.
We have had it the last two winters and it has not gone away during the summer.”
Knockfarrel, Dingwall, IV15 9TQ
Knockfarrel Produce is a small, family-run organic croft beneath the iron age hill fort of the vallage, growing vegetables as well as having free range eggs, preserves, sausages, bacon, ham and pestos.
Crofter Jo Hunt said: “We have had to house birds for most of the time – that reduces output of the birds by 30%. Feed price has gone up by 60% so it is a bit tough.
“We have kept prices the same – we charge £2 a half-dozen for organic eggs and just think 50p an egg is too much.
“I think bird flu has become endemic. As birds in Finland, Russia and the Arctic migrate south, they come to the edge of the ocean, which is why we see them in Scotland.
“For the last nine years they have brought bird flu with them. It is associated with the wild bird population but now it is being passed on to captive birds in the UK. So it’s here.
“It Is a worrying situation.”
Other egg producers and sellers:
North Kessock, IV1 3XD
Black Isle Veg Boxes (Fearniewell Croft)
Fearniewell, Muiryden, Fortrose, IV10 8SW
C J Grant Egg Hoosie
Fraserburgh, AB43 6RJ
Main Street, Culbokie, IV7 8JH
Newton of Fortrie, Turriff, AB53 4HG
Unit 6, 13 Harbour Rd, Inverness IV1 1SY
Kylerona Farm, 8 Hillhead, Ardersier, IV2 7QZ
11-13 Tomich, Beauly, IV4 7AS
Garguston Farm, Garguston, Muir of Ord IV6 7RT
Rosefarm, Cromarty, IV11 8XU
The Storehouse, Foulis Ferry, Evanton, IV16 9UX
Some supermarkets rationing eggs
It is not just the small independents who are anxiously monitoring what is happening with bird flu and the availability of eggs as supermarkets are also clearly affected.
Asda is limiting customers to two boxes of eggs each as fast-rising costs hit supplies.
An Asda spokesperson said: “We are working hard with our suppliers to resolve the industry challenges which are currently affecting all supermarkets and to make sure as many customers as possible can buy eggs we have introduced a temporary limit of two boxes per customer”
Meanwhile Tesco has reported good availability, with no buying limits and added it is working with producers to protect supplies.
But customers of Lidl are limited to three boxes of eggs each and many Aldi stores are suffering shortages.
What is the egg industry saying?
The British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association (BFREPA) said: “In March we asked for a 40p per dozen rise in egg prices at retail level and for the additional money to be passed down the chain to producers.
“While egg prices have risen by about 45p per dozen, many farmers have only received 5-10p of that rise.
“Egg producers have been hit with huge hikes in production costs. Feeding hens is now at least 50% more expensive than it was, and energy prices have soared in the same way that consumers have seen their domestic bills rise.
“Spending on fuel has grown by 30%, while labour and packaging also costs more.”
Will eggs run out before Christmas?
BFREPA added: “Many of our members are losing money on every egg laid and our data shows that even those who are making a small profit do not see a long-term future.
“Our survey of 163 free range producers… showed 33% had either reduced their flock sizes, paused production temporarily or left the industry altogether.
“Fewer hens means fewer eggs and we warned in March that eggs could be in short supply by Christmas.