Cornish egg farmers say supermarkets need to give farmers a fairer deal before they go bankrupt

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The owners of an egg farm in Cornwall says supermarkets need pay farmers a fairer price or else farms will go bankrupt.

Most supermarkets have seen empty shelves and farmers say this is because they are being left out of pocket as the cost of production rockets without being paid more for their eggs.

Asda and Lidl have rationed the number of eggs customers can buy because of the shortage of supermarket supply.

It took 12 months for Pete and Jenny Olds from Cornhill Farm to get out of their supermarket contract.

Cornhill farm now packs and delivers eggs for customers local to the farm near Camborne Credit: ITV News

They now sell directly to locals which means they take a bigger cut of the profits. However the huge rise in the cost of grain and oil means they're seeing lots of families leaving the industry entirely because they are "haemorrhaging money".

Pete Olds says "No business could keep keep funding hundreds of thousands of losses exponentially. You just can't carry on - there's a breaking point. And we're seeing farmers going out of producing eggs because they can no longer afford to pay the bills."

Cornhill Farm has 13,500 hens to feed. Fourth generation farmer Pete says the cost of chicken feed has rocketed this year from £260 a ton before Russia invaded to Ukraine, to now £400 per ton.

The family have shared videos on social media using data from the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, showing how the price farmers are being paid has dipped 15 pence below the cost of production per dozen.

Jenny Olds says lots of farmers are frustrated by their contracts and are either "riding it out" or "going bankrupt".

"We need to have a really serious conversation in this country about food security and the damage to supermarkets are doing to our farming infrastructure. Because if something is not done, then this is going to affect all of us."

Andrew Opie the Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium says "While avian flu has disrupted the supply of some egg ranges, retailers are experts at managing supply chains and are working hard to minimise impact on customers. Some stores have introduced temporary limits on the number of boxes customers can buy to ensure availability for everyone.”

The trade association, which representing many supermarkets, goes on to say: "retailers have long-standing, established relationships with their suppliers and know how important maintaining these are for their customers and businesses. Supermarkets source the vast majority of their food from the UK and know they need to pay a sustainable price to egg farmers but are constrained by how much additional cost they can pass onto consumers during a cost-of-living crisis.”

Customers in Torquay's Wetherspoon pub The Green Ginger are being offered alternatives to egg on their usual menu Credit: Devon Live/BPM MEDIA

British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) say it will be a four months before supermarkets have normal numbers of eggs back on their shelves.

Robert Gooch, Chief Executive says although prices have been increased gradually over the last couple of months "it is too little too late to do anything about the shortages we're having now" because of how long it takes to get raise buy hens and raise them to an age they can produce eggs.

He continues saying "things will get back to normal" by the summer.

"We just need the retailers to take a long term view of the supply chains and if they don't, we ask government to do so."