In response to the avian flu crisis and the subsequent shortage of eggs in South Africa, major retailers Woolworths and Pick n Pay have implemented egg rationing measures. Customers are now limited to purchasing six eggs per person, except for packs of 18 or 36 eggs that are still available in some stores.
Woolworths, in a statement, mentioned that they are closely monitoring the avian flu situation and taking strict biosecurity measures to protect their hens. They are facing significant supply challenges and are working with farmers to restore regular egg supply as soon as possible. This temporary restriction has been put in place with the understanding and cooperation of their customers.
Pick n Pay will also be introducing limits on egg purchases, allowing customers to buy only one or two packs depending on the region. The retailer will be collaborating with suppliers to manage stock and support stores in areas where suppliers have been affected. Customers have been requested to shop responsibly during this time.
Shoprite, however, has not imposed any restrictions on egg purchases so far. They are working closely with suppliers to secure as much stock as possible and transport it to regions facing shortages. The popular Sixty60 online shopping app, operated by the Shoprite group, showed all egg brands as ‘out of stock’ on Tuesday.
The avian flu outbreak in South Africa is said to be the most devastating since 2017, resulting in higher chicken and egg prices. To counter local broiler chicken shortages, there are discussions about importing millions of fertilised eggs into the country. The poultry industry predicts a significant increase in chicken imports leading up to the December period.
The avian flu strains vary across different regions of South Africa. The H5 variant is prevalent in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, while the more lethal H7 outbreaks are mainly concentrated in Limpopo, the North West, the Free State, and Mpumalanga.
The H7 strain has a longer incubation period, allowing infected chickens to spread the virus to other flocks. To control the outbreak, farmers are required to cull all infected chickens and destroy any eggs found at the site. Farms within a 3km radius of the outbreak are also mandated to follow the same procedure.
Despite the concerns in the industry, the South African Poultry Association assures consumers that none of the infected chickens will make it to the market. However, it is important for consumers to understand the temporary restrictions in place and cooperate in order to manage the crisis effectively.