Healthy-eating fast-food chain Leon is struggling to source eggs because of a shortage as a result of new welfare regulations that came into effect at the start of the year.
New EU rules banning the housing of hens in conventional cages has forced prices to rocket and demand to outstrip supply, it was reported in Caterer and Hotelkeeper last week.
Leon outlets have been forced to source eggs from local retailers such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer as secure stocks of free-range shell eggs became harder to come by.
According to the company's commercial director, James-Lee French, this hasn't been cost-effective but has ensured the eggs meet the required quality standards.
He said that part of the problem was that Leon had recently launched a number of new products that had eggs in them and the past two weeks had seen secure stocks of free-range shell eggs particularly hard to source.
"The past two weeks, since pancake day, we've had a lot of problems," he explained. "We were previously buying free-range eggs from our produce supplier but only in very small quantities.
"Once we started developing products that had more egg in them we went to the three biggest shell egg producers in the country, which is obviously when the problem started coming to light."
The shortfall in supply has occurred because many European suppliers opted to stop producing eggs in order to avoid the cost burden of ensuring they meet the EU welfare regulations.
French added: "We've been speaking to a number of suppliers about guaranteeing the quantity that we need on a weekly basis and we're waiting for them to come back to us.
"But for us it's a little more difficult. The multiples have guaranteed quotas and, rightly or wrongly, they're serviced first. Businesses like ours, which maybe only want a couple of thousand eggs rather than millions per week, are lower down the pecking order.
"At this point we're hoping not to change the menus but we're keeping a very close eye on the situation. "
* Have you been affected by the egg shortage? Get in touch: email@example.com.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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