New Zealand’s egg shortage is hitting cruise ships too – forcing the crew of one vessel to hatch a poaching plan.
This story was first published on Stuff.
On the hunt for eggs, a crew from a luxury cruise ship got cracking and hatched a cunning plan.
Earlier this week, Stuff reported the curious case of two dozen crew members from the cruise ship Azamara who tried to poach the entire supply of eggs from the shelves of Four Square Port Chalmers on Sunday morning.
That plan was cracked by observant staff who feared they were about to be cleaned-out by the crew, leading to owner Aaron Challis asking that the cartons – limited to one per customer due to the nationwide egg shortage – not be sold to the visitors.
Produce manager Clayton Sinclair called Challis when he counted 23 people outside and saw two entering to buy a carton of eggs each. “That’s when he clicked and realised they were coming to clean us out … that is not an individual purchase,” Challis said. “I said, ‘don’t sell to them’.”
Challis said the store was frequently visited by passengers and crew members while their cruise ships were berthed at Port Otago, but eggs were never usually on their shopping lists. “They probably needed them to cook onboard the ship… They obviously ran out in their kitchen.”
He made no apology for the limit, which was aimed at making it fair for everyone, particularly those who lived in the area. Cruise ships were “an important part of our business, but they are not what we focus on”, Challis said.
The supermarket’s focus was local, including opening checkouts for older customers waiting in line. “Little thing like that … we are always watching for it.”
But after being turned away by the Port Chalmers supermarket, the crew headed for Dunedin, where witnesses reported that they cleared out the shelves of eggs from Dunedin Central Countdown.
A Countdown spokesperson confirmed the situation, and said that the supermarket team refused to sell them any more eggs when they returned a day later, “given their large purchase the day before”.
“While we don’t currently have formal limits in place, our team is able to take action if they feel a customer is buying more than their fair share or purchasing for resale.”
“We do ask all customers that they continue to be mindful and only buy what they need so that there’s enough eggs for everyone.”
Meanwhile, other readers contacted Stuff to say they could no longer find eggs on the shelves in the city supermarkets since the weekend, with most stores displaying signs limiting customers to non-existent stock.
The country’s egg shortage is due to a sharp reduction in the number of egg laying hens following the introduction of a new welfare code followed by a decision from supermarkets to no longer take colony eggs. It is expected to ease later this year.
Attempts to get comment from cruise company Azamara were unsuccessful.
Its vessel, Azamara Quest, which hosts 650 passengers, 400 crew and now presumably dozens of Dunedin eggs, departed Port Chalmers for Fiordland on Monday.
New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan told Stuff that the case illustrated the short supply of eggs across New Zealand. Cruise ships vessels were normally stocked by provodores, which supplied a range of items including fresh produce such as eggs, he explained. “I guess they came up short.”