The Nationals WA have written to all major supermarket chains in WA seeking an explanation for the current egg shortage and requesting further information on supermarket pricing decisions and auditing and traceability processes.
Agricultural spokesperson Colin de Grussa MLC said the letter was prompted following regular meetings with WA egg producers.
“Egg producers are deeply concerned that they are heading the same way as the dairy industry. They have very little power to negotiate a fair price with supermarkets, and are legitimately concerned about the long-term viability of their industry,” Mr de Grussa said.
“The shortage of WA eggs on store shelves in recent weeks, along with concerns around egg substitution and mislabelling, is creating significant consumer interest around this issue.”
Mr de Grussa said The Nationals WA had written to Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, IGA and Spudshed, asking them to clarify the following points:
- Why is there currently an egg shortage in WA supermarkets?
- What auditing process is being undertaken to ensure accountability and traceability of eggs?
- What is the process and timeframe for egg producers seeking to renegotiate contracts?
- Is there continued consumer demand for caged eggs?
- How would supermarkets support suppliers to meet increased demands for non-caged eggs?
Mr de Grussa said local egg producers found the process to renegotiate contracts to be lengthy, often taking up to six months, and intimidating.
“Due to drought and high feed costs, many producers have seen their costs increase, and it is reasonable they are given an opportunity to renegotiate contract prices in order to receive a fair return.
“Without a proper return, egg producers may not have the financial capacity to reinvest in their businesses to meet increasing consumer demand or to make improvements aimed at animal welfare, such as transitioning away from caged eggs.”
Mr de Grussa said concerns had also been raised about supermarkets meeting their traceability and accountability expectations.
“For instance, Coles states on their website that they only audit around 10 per cent of their suppliers. This leaves a large gap which could be exploited by a producer doing the wrong thing,” he said.
Mr de Grussa said he hoped the major supermarket chains would take the request as an opportunity to demonstrate they were meeting consumer and producer expectations.