Tesco has become the latest supermarket to limit the number of egg boxes customers can purchase amid rising costs and the bird flu outbreak.

The major supermarket joined Asda and Lidl who introduced limits on egg purchases earlier this month.

The temporary limit has been brought in as a precautionary measure and means that consumers are limited to three boxes each.

The announcement comes as the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) calls for an “urgent investigation” into the egg supply chain disruption.

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Tesco limits egg purchases as supermarket joins Asda and Lidl

To ensure there is “much-needed support” for egg producers, the NFU has urged the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to look into whether a declaration should be made under the Agriculture Act 2020.

The situation is reportedly being monitored, the Government has said.

It also insisted that the UK's food supply chain is “resilient” and that overall no “significant impact” is expected.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We understand the difficulties that rising costs combined with the bird flu outbreak are causing for farmers and we are working with industry to monitor the egg market.

“The UK’s food supply chain is resilient – there are 38 million laying hens across the country and we are not expecting any significant impact to the overall supply.”

A declaration under section 20 of the Agriculture Act “would enable Defra to use its statutory powers to provide much-needed support to egg producers whose livelihoods are under threat," the NFU commented.

The union’s president Minette Batters said it is “critical” that the Government acts now to give producers “the confidence they need”.

She said: “There are a huge range of issues facing the poultry sector, in particular within the egg supply chain, which have built up over months and which we have been warning of for some time. Energy price inflation and supply chain disruption have added to the worst outbreak in Avian Influenza yet. However, these pressures alone cannot explain empty shelves.

“The NFU raised concerns about the functionality of the supply chain with Defra a number of months ago in the hope of avoiding the situation we have now, with some retailers having to limit UK consumers’ access to eggs. This is surely a prima facie case of severe disturbance to an agricultural market.

“It is critical that Defra acts now to investigate the issues in the egg supply chain so that any declaration under section 20 can be made as soon as possible.

“Poultry and egg producers must have the confidence they need, working within a fair and transparent supply chain, with fair returns for farmers, so they can do what they do best; meet demand from shoppers for quality British eggs and poultry meat.”

The limits on egg purchases as the UK faces its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu.

The bout of bird flu has compounded existing shortages that have followed producers cutting back their output or leaving the industry due to increased costs.

Other factors that have led to the disruption include Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The conflict has driven up the energy bills of farmers along with the rising cost of chicken feed, hens and packaging.

Additionally, consumers have been seeking cheaper protein sources to add to their weekly shops due to soaring food bills which has also increased the demand for eggs.