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a broken egg
Around 100,000 eggs were destroyed after the scandal broke earlier this monthImage: dapd

Eggs are scary

January 27, 2011

After the dioxin scandal shook consumer confidence in German agricultural products, demand for eggs dropped some 20 percent. But one group has seen a boom in sales - organic grocers.


Bernd Huth, an organic butcher who sells his wares at the farmer's market in Bonn, says the lines at his stand are growing longer.

"You can tell we've got new customers. And that's a problem. We can't currently meet demand," Huth said.

Several kilometers away, at the organic grocery store 'Biosupermarkt Momo' in Bonn, General Manager Uli Rothert said he has seen a similar spike in demand - especially for eggs.

"Usually, we sell 4,500 eggs a week. At the moment it could be more like 7,000 - if they were actually here," Rothert said.

The problem is that the eggs are simply not available. Rothert's wholesaler says he cannot deliver any more - not a single pallet.

Uli Rothert sorting eggs
Organic grocers can't keep up with the demand for eggsImage: Miriam Klaussner

Eggs shortage

In January, thousands of German farms were temporarily shut down after purchasing dioxin-tainted animal feed. The demand for eggs has since dropped some 20 percent, says the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE).

But sales of organic eggs have grown by nearly 50 percent and organic poultry by nearly a third, according to the Association of Organic Natural Products (BNN).

The increased demand will have lasting consequences for the prices for organic eggs and meat, says organic butcher Bernd Huth.

"The suppliers have come in and said it's more expensive, because demand is greater. In the future, when the boom dies down again, we'll be stuck with those higher prices, and our customers will, too," Huth said.

Huth himself doesn't yet know just how high the prices will go. Business has been booming since the beginning of the dioxin scandal, and his sales have increased by a third.

The cycle of a scandal

chicken farm
Many consumers are now shunning mass-produced poultryImage: Picture-Alliance/dpa

The boom will likely last as long as the media coverage keeps the scandal at the forefront of consumer's minds, says Huth.

"As long as the newspapers have dioxin headlines, there's going to be a queue. But as soon as it's gone for three to five days, the customers are gone, too."

Organic supermarket manager Ulli Rothert says it's a trend he's seen before with other food scares.

"It's funny, they only come when there's a scandal... six weeks and then it subsides - until the next scandal. It's sad," said Rothert.

In the meantime, regular organic shoppers will have to get used to empty shelves.

Author: Miriam Klaussner / smh
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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