Star comment: Egg industry needs help to weather storm

Fears about shortages frequently become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Concerns are expressed, the public panic buys and shortages get worse while people bulk buy items that they will not use.

We have seen it with petrol in the past, even with flower and pasta during lockdown. Toilet roll was another everyday commodity that became subject to the vagaries of the market.

Now it is the turn of eggs. They are in short supply and retailers are rationing them so that they do not run out.

The shortage is partly down to increased demand, in addition to bird flu, a lack of supply and increased costs.

Supermarkets are limiting how many people can buy in order to limit the impact, but many of us will have been met with empty shelves in recent weeks.

It is a difficult problem to fix, but fundamentally it is crucial that egg farmers stay in the industry. The UK needs to have a degree of self-reliance on such an essential commodity, just as it needs to have energy security and control over other sectors of the economy.

That means egg farmers must be helped through the bird flu crisis, making sure they are not sent under by rising energy bills. Supermarkets also have a role to play in giving farmers a fair deal.

All those action points may lead to a few pence added to a half-dozen, but it may be a price we have to pay for a guaranteed supply of eggs on our shelves.

The issues are short-term and will be resolved. It is important to keep cool heads and make sure those who need short-term help are assisted, lest we cause structural damage to an industry upon which we all rely so heavily.

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Nostalgia feeds the view of adults when it comes to toys. That is why such items as Lego, jigsaws and cuddly toys dominate the list of toys that will stand the test of time.

A poll suggests that while new developments in technology and the distraction of social media and interactive games encourage many youngsters, a few plastic bricks are guaranteed to keep most children quiet.

It’s a reliable truth that fashions don’t change so much, and that while some toys are popular for a short while, there is another category that is loved across the generations. They appeal to children - and to the inner child in adults. They are also more robust, they can be enjoyed over a period of time and are less likely to be broken on Christmas morning.

Lego is simple, educational and has endless uses. Just make sure you don’t stand on one with bare feet.

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