In the United Kingdom, the “English breakfast” is the victim of a lack of eggs

In Gursel Kirik’s café, customers devour their “English breakfast” before going to work. But if the orders are connected, the manager does not hide his concern: between inflation and a shortage of eggs, the traditional breakfast is more and more expensive to prepare.

A fried egg, a few slices of bacon, two sausages and white beans in tomato sauce served with thick slices of toast
: Gate Grill Cafe, in the heart of London, serves the essential meal for just six pounds (seven euros) with, as a bonus, a strong smell of roasting that follows you for the rest of the day.

But the record, popular with tourists as well as Brits, has seen its production cost rise in a country where inflation exceeds 11%.

“Everything Rises”says Mr. Kirik, serving workers seated around a Formica table. “The energy bills, the products we buy… Every week we have something new. »

The last weeks, eggs have become unaffordable as a result of a local outbreak of bird flu which has increased the difficulties for farmers already affected by the rise in wheat and energy prices since the war in Ukraine.

Some supermarkets such as Lidl or Asda anticipate a shortage by rationing purchases to two boxes per customer. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has changed its menu, replacing eggs with hash browns in some places.

“The box of 360 eggs costs £68 compared to £20 three months ago”sorry Mr. Kirik. “We will eventually have to change our prices, but we know that people are also in difficulties, so who will buy from us if it becomes too expensive? »asks the 51-year-old restaurateur, showing his menu “printed in January”, and unchanged since despite inflation.

“Fill Your Belly”

The British capital is full of small shops like Mr. Kirik serving “English breakfast”, omelettes and bacon sandwiches at all times. Nicknamed “greasy spoons”, these coffees the very masculine clientele is especially appreciated by workers who come to eat there at low prices.

“Every day during my break I come to have English breakfast”says Daniel Saunders, 48, smoking a cigarette outside the cafe. “When you work in construction like I do, you are always outside. It’s cold, it’s raining, it’s windy… All I want is something warm to fill my belly”he explains.

“Before it was really cheap”recalls Mr Saunders, construction boots on his feet and a yellow safety vest on his shoulders. “But everything is increasing at the moment and I don’t really have a choice: you have to eat well”he adds, still fear that the eggs (product “cheaper than meat” when we have “two big teenagers to feed”) runs out.

“Worse and worse”

Environment and Food Minister Therese Coffey tried to downplay the shortage, pointed out Thursday that there was still “14 million laying hens available”in the country.

But the supply has been falling since the beginning of the month and indoor confinement of British poultry. As Christmas approaches, a third of manufacturers have already reduced their production, according to industry associations.

Gursel Kirik points this out the lack of eggs is just the latest in a series of difficulties. His café opened in 1979 has already overcome Brexit, “a big mistake” in his view, which made imports more expensive. The manager then closed during the pandemic and has since struggled to find its customers.

This time, he does not know if he will survive the cost of living crisis and the austerity budget the government presented on Thursday, providing tax increases and lower spending in a country already in recession. “It’s getting worse. We’ll be able to stay open for another four or five months, but after that I’m afraid we’ll have no choice but to close.”

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