SHEFFIELD shoppers are being forced to shell out more for eggs after prices rocketed.
Castle Market trader Paul Tissington has been selling eggs on his stall for almost 50 years.
He said eggs are now costing him around twice as much as they were before rules banning battery cages were brought in.
The scramble for eggs is forcing him to charge £2.20 for a dozen large eggs – an £1 increase on what he normally charges.
Paul said: “I paid 30p per dozen more for the eggs I bought this morning than I paid for the same-sized eggs yesterday, it’s crazy.
“I have to pass that cost on to my customers who simply can’t pay those kind of prices.
“Not only that but simply getting hold of eggs is a problem. I am having to beg and plead for supplies and it’s getting worse.”
He added: “I believe the rules should be relaxed to give people a wider choice, it would also help satisfy demand and therefore drive the price down.
“Why should the retail customer have to face the burden every time?”
Philip Hudson, head of food and farming at the National Farmers Union, said British egg producers have spent £400m ensuring their industry complied with the new regulations.
He added: “People have known about this new rule coming into force for some time.
“As a result, British producers are keen to ensure illegal eggs are not imported into this country.”
The price of eggs has risen because supplies have been hit by a combination of the ban on cruel battery cages, which came into effect in January, and rising costs for free-range producers.
The wholesale price for a dozen of the cheapest large eggs has more than doubled in the past year from 45p to 97p, while the figure for medium is up from 40p to 83p. The price that food companies pay for processed liquid and powdered egg has leapt by 70 per cent. This will feed through to higher prices on products from cakes and pies to ice cream. Many shoppers buy free-range eggs, where there is a relatively good supply, but these prices are expected to rise by up to 20p a dozen.
The EU banned use of the smallest battery cages in January with the result that many flocks were destroyed.
Many farmers switched their hens to larger enriched cages to produce cheap supermarket eggs and those used in manufacturing.
British egg production is predicted to be down by around five per cent this year with the pattern repeated across the Continent.
Warnings of an egg shortage have been posted in France where it is claimed cake and brioche manufacturers may soon be forced to shut.