Very eggs-pensive

Despite MT’s Stakhanovite work ethic, on a Friday afternoon it’s hard to stop our thoughts drifting inexorably towards the weekend, and all the pleasures it might hold.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Chief among which, for many in the UK, is the Saturday morning fry-up – sizzling bacon, succulent sausages and poached eggs, swimming in a pool of baked beans and HP sauce (we’re getting hungry already).

The only problem is, this great British staple is about to get a lot more expensive – and it all boils down to chickens. A worldwide grain shortage has doubled the price of animal feed in the last year, making it more expensive for farmers to keep hens.

According to Noble Foods, the UK’s biggest egg supplier, suppliers are now starting to cancel chick orders. It’s exactly 50 years since Britons were first urged to ‘go to work on an egg’ – with the peak Christmas season fast approaching, we now face the unpalatable prospect of running out altogether.

Other key fry-up ingredients are also feeling the heat. Rising wheat costs have already pushed up the price of bread, while pricier pig feed is also likely to make sausages more expensive.

So who’s to blame? One easy target is the European Union, which has capped grain production on the continent for the last 15 years. Today, it bowed to pressure and scrapped its limits for at least a year.

The UK has not been the only casualty of the shortage. In Italy yesterday, consumer groups staged a strike in protest at rising prices of their own national staple – pasta. The significance of this cannot be overstated – one of the organisers pointed out that if pasta prices continue to go up, Italians wouldn’t be able to afford to spend money on shoes, clothes and cars. Perish the thought.

But if grain prices end up forcing the fry-up off the menu across the UK, expect to see the masses taking to the streets here too. The greasy spoon revolution – MT will be in the front line…

Click here to read our interview with Lorenzo Marioni, owner of greasy spoon extraordinare New Piccadilly Café in Soho.

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