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 strips of bacon, two sausages and white beans in tomato sauce accompanied by thick slices of toast: the Gate Grill Cafe, in the heart of London, serves the necessary meal for just six pounds (seven euros), with the added bonus of a strong smell of frying that follows you for the rest of the day.
But the record, which is popular with tourists and Britons, has seen its production cost skyrocket in a country where inflation exceeds 11%.
“Everything is increasing,” Mr Kirik told AFP, serving workers seated around a Formica table. “The energy bills, the products we buy…Every week we have something new.”
In recent weeks, eggs have become prohibitively expensive, the result of a local outbreak of bird flu, which has added to the difficulties of farmers already hit 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. The JD Wetherspoon pub chain 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,” laments Mr Kirik.
“We’ll end up having to change our prices, but we know people are struggling too, so who’s going to buy from us if it’s going to be 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 cafes are especially appreciated by workers who come to eat there at low prices.
“Every day on my break I come for English breakfast,” Daniel Saunders, 48, smoking a cigarette outside the cafe, told AFP.
“When you work in construction like I do, you’re always outside. It’s cold, it’s raining, it’s windy… All I want is something warm to fill my stomach,” he explains.
“Before, it was really cheap,” recalls Mr. Saunders with 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 fearing that eggs – a commodity “cheaper than meat” when you have “two big teenagers to feed ” – is running out.
– “Worse and worse” –
Environment and Food Minister Therese Coffey tried to downplay the shortage, stressing on Thursday that there were 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 out that the lack of eggs is just the latest in a series of difficulties.
His cafe, which opened in 1979, has already overcome Brexit, “a big mistake”, he says, 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, which provides tax increases and lower spending in a country already in recession.
“It’s getting worse and 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.”