In the United Kingdom, the traditional English breakfast is in danger due to a lack of eggs

In the United Kingdom, the traditional English breakfast is in danger due to a lack of eggs

A long queue for breakfast at Café Regency in London / AFP

LONDON

AFP

At Gursel Kirik’s cafeteria, customers hastily devour their “English breakfast” before going to work. But the manager does not hide his concern: between the very high inflation and the shortage of eggs, the traditional “breakfast” is becoming more and more expensive.

A fried egg, some slices of bacon, two sausages and white beans accompanied by thick toast. The Gate Grill Cafe, in the heart of London, serves this traditional meal for just six pounds (seven dollars), which leaves a strong smell of frying in your nostrils for the rest of the day.

But the dish, prized by tourists and Britons alike, has seen its production price skyrocket in a country where inflation is over 11 percent. “Everything is going up,” Kirik says as he serves workers at a Formica table. “Electricity bills, the products we buy”, every week the price of something goes up, he laments. Eggs have recently become scarce as a result of a local outbreak of bird flu that has compounded the difficulties of farmers, already affected by the rise in wheat and energy prices in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.

The lack of eggs is just one more in a list of problems that plague the British

Some supermarkets such as Lidl and Asda are anticipating shortages by rationing purchases to two boxes per customer, and the JD Wetherspoon pub chain has changed its menu, in some cases replacing eggs with potato cakes.

“A box of 360 eggs costs £68 ($81), compared to £20 three months ago,” Kirik explains. “At some point we’ll have to change our prices, but we know people have a hard time too, so who’s going to buy from us if it gets too expensive?” the 51-year-old restaurateur wonders, holding up his menu, “printed on January” and unchanged since then despite inflation.

Fried eggs, beans, bacon and sausages, a full English breakfast

“FILL THE STOMACH”

The British capital is full of small shops like Kirik’s that serve English breakfasts, omelettes and bacon sandwiches at all hours. Nicknamed “greasy spoons”, these cafes with a very masculine clientele are especially popular with workers looking to eat on the cheap.

“Every day, on my break, I come to have an English breakfast,” explains Daniel Saunders, 48, as he smokes outside the cafe.

“When you work in construction like me, you’re always out. It’s cold, it’s raining, it’s windy… All I want is something warm to fill my stomach,” she says. “Before it was very cheap,” recalls Saunders, outfitted in construction shoes and a yellow safety vest.

“But now everything goes up and I really have no choice, I have to eat,” he adds, fearing that eggs will run out, a product “cheaper than meat” when you have “two teenage children to feed.”

“FROM BAD TO WORSE”

Britain’s Environment and Food Minister Therese Coffey tried to downplay the shortage, saying days ago that there were still “14 million laying hens available” in the country.

However, supplies have been dwindling since UK poultry had to be confined indoors earlier in the month.

On the eve of the Christmas season, a third of growers have already cut production, according to industry associations.

For his part, Kirik sees the lack of eggs as just one more on a list of difficulties.

His café, opened in 1979, has already weathered Brexit, “a big mistake” in his opinion, which made imports more expensive. The place later closed during the pandemic and has been fighting to win back its customers ever since.

This time, he does not know if he will survive the crisis of the high cost of living and the austerity policies announced by the British Conservative government, which include tax increases and cuts in public aid.

“We are going from bad to worse. We will be able to continue opening another four or five months, but then I am afraid that we will have no choice but to close ”, she laments.

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