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No need for panic buying of eggs, stock replenishing

Government processing more import permits

Egg supplies are expected to stabilise as soon as SA gets back to a capacity of 27- million layer hens.
Egg supplies are expected to stabilise as soon as SA gets back to a capacity of 27- million layer hens.
Image: Picture: 123RF/Karandaev

The poultry industry has welcomed the government’s plan to increase imports of table eggs in an attempt to meet the huge demand that has seen the price of eggs skyrocketing in recent months. 

Government’s intervention comes as the country continues to battle the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that has led to the culling of more than six millions chickens, resulting in a shortage of poultry and eggs.

“We are happy that the HPAI outbreak is under control and that 70% of farms that were not infected continue to produce eggs and chickens. Since the egg production cycle is not too long, we expect the situation to normalise early next year. We will continue to import more eggs should the situation not improve,” said agriculture, land reform and rural development department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo.

Ngcobo said egg stock levels were replenishing steadily and there was no need for panic buying.

“The department has a few open import permits for eggs and poultry products from a few countries. Import of table eggs, fertilised eggs, pasteurised eggs, egg powder and liquid eggs has been going on for many years in SA and did not only start with the current outbreak of the HPAI.

“A few countries that include Brazil, USA and Argentina have been exporting eggs to SA for quite some time and we are processing import permit applications from a few more countries.

“We don’t dictate which countries should make business sense for South African retailers to import eggs from. It does not matter for us which country importers apply to import eggs from for as long as we are satisfied with biosecurity matters in exporting countries, irrespective of whether that country is Kenya or the USA,” said Ngcobo.

This is done to prevent the introduction of diseases to our shores.

He said to prepare for the festive season, nine million fertilised eggs, 37,802 tons of day-old chicks, 62 tons of egg products, and 30,986 tons of poultry meat had been imported.

“We have increased fertilised eggs from 1.9 million to 9 million in less than one month. These eggs will be chickens in less than four months,” he said.

Dr Abongile Balarane from the SA Poultry Association said: “The fertile hatchery eggs imported will assist in building the recovered 30% capacity of our local production. This means there are currently shortages of table eggs in SA, however, the situation is improving slowly as the HPAI outbreaks have dropped but not disappeared completely ... we need to import the fertile hatchery eggs to rebuild our production.”

He said egg supplies were expected to stabilise as soon as the country got back to a capacity of 27 million layer hens.“[It] will take us approximately 18 months to get back to this normal level. We may continue to import fertile hatchery eggs but this will also depend on how our breeding stock has improved,” said Balerane.

He said the shortage of table eggs at the beginning of the avian flue saw the price reaching the top ceiling, something which consumers did not respond well to.

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