The Internal Marketing Division had been marketing eggs for two years before the war, its purpose being to give growers a better price during the flush of egg production and to improve the winter supply of eggs to consumers. At this stage full control was not taken, but eggs were exported in the flush of the season, or were pulped for sale to bakers and manufacturers in the winter.
From 1940, an attempt was made to rationalise the market, so as to prevent some dealers from taking excessive price margins and to raise the standard of premises and facilities. Under the Egg Marketing Regulations 1940, the four main centres, and later Napier and Hastings, were declared to be ‘Egg Marketing Areas’ page 462 within which all eggs from outside must be sold through licensed distributors only, according to grade. Weekly price ‘pools’ were arranged to ensure fair prices to suppliers.
By 1941, with labour difficulties reducing the number of mixed farm and backyard flocks, and producing districts tending to use more eggs as some other foods became scarce, there was a tendency towards a permanent shortage of eggs in the main centres. Ultimately, to improve supplies to the centres, ‘Emergency Marketing Areas’ were established in producing districts.1 In these areas, poultrymen were to sell only to a central egg floor, from which supplies would be allocated among local retailers, cities, ships, camps, etc., according to the directions of the Internal Marketing Division. By 1945, twelve such floors were operating.
Eggs were not formally rationed to consumers, as were butter and a number of other commodities, but special priority arrangements were made to secure a minimum of three eggs a week for young children, invalids, and expectant and nursing mothers.2 In 1943–44 the Division arranged for a weekly ration of eggs per person based on butter rationing registrations.
To cope with the overall scarcity of eggs, the Internal Marketing Division imported pulp and egg powder, and encouraged production of grains for poultry feed. From June 1944, a subsidy of 3d. a dozen eggs delivered to the floors increased the flow of eggs into Emergency Marketing Areas, but the special priority arrangements had to be continued until June 1950.
1 By the Egg Marketing Emergency Regulations 1942. Gazetted 18 June 1942.
2 Later in the war, expectant and nursing mothers received a minimum of six.