Staff at The Larder know exactly what to do when they see a hard-to-find ingredient while out shopping
“Grab it!” says Shirley Smith, a shop assistant at the Huntly delicatessen and sandwich shop.
Top of the hit list are things like butter, a critical component of The Larder’s famously decadent cakes and brownies, but which has nearly doubled in price over the past few months.
“If we can get something, we get it while we can get it or when we see it,” Shirley explains.
Now, staff have a new item to add to the list – eggs.
Bakers across the north and north-east are scrambling to secure egg supplies as shortages hit UK supermarkets.
Asda this week started limiting customers to just two boxes of eggs while Lidl set the limit at three.
Meanwhile, other supermarkets are facing holdups in their egg supply chains, threatening the availability of a core ingredient for bakers.
Around Huntly, the situation is so stretched that Larder staff found only empty shelves on a recent supermarket trip to buy eggs.
Shirley says plans are afoot to switch to a local supplier such as Mill of Tynet Farm near Buckie. However, the shortages have affected this week’s output.
“If we don’t have the eggs, we can’t make the brownies and we can’t make as many quiches or stuff like that,” Shirley says.
‘We’ll just have to find a way around it’
Aberdeen cake maker Jenny Robertson, who owns Cake Affair in Stoneywood, has at least two weeks-worth of eggs in her stores so hasn’t yet been affected.
However, she says the shortages could be a problem for her and other small bakers – most buy their eggs from supermarkets instead of securing them wholesale.
“We’ll just have to find a way around it,” says Jenny who typically uses about five eggs in each of her elaborately-designed cakes.
“That might mean going from store to store to get the eggs that we need,” she adds.
At Gannet’s in Laurencekirk, owner Aaron Neave says egg shortages are also low on his list of problems.
He has a local supplier so hasn’t yet had problems getting his hands on any.
He has, however, had to put up prices recently because of rising ingredients costs.
Mayonnaise, which uses egg, is up 54% in price, Arron says, while a bag of flour has jumped from £13 to £17, an increase of just under a third.
“The price of stuff has gone crazy,” he remarks.
Meanwhile, Donna MacCulloch, the owner of Roxy’s in Oban, says bakers such as herself are learning how to deal with shortages, eggs included.
“We’ll make less of something and more something else,” says Donna, who earlier this year released a cake recipe book.
“You just have to cut your cloth according to your needs.”
Back at the Larder, staff have switched to making more hot bakes such as sausage rolls.
“We’re trying to make extra stuff that doesn’t really need [eggs],” Shirley says. “But it doesn’t always work.”