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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist

SA stores could get more eggs on shelves as industry turns to liquid and powder forms

Large-scale bakeries in South Africa will be using more liquid and powder eggs. But what are these?

Amid egg shortages caused by the outbreak of avian flu, the SA Poultry Association (Sapa) said table eggs are being diverted from “industrial” customers and bakeries to store shelves.

It also said that it was not expecting to import table eggs, but instead looking to liquid and powder eggs to ensure that more table eggs are available on store shelves. The liquid and powder eggs will be used for industrial use, such as large-scale bakeries.

“We have reduced our cross border exports and we will fast track the importation of liquid and powder eggs for industrial purposes and then channel back those table eggs that were meant for industrial purposes to the shelves for the consumers,” said Abongile Balarane, spokesperson for Sapa.

ALSO READ: Government looking for eggs from anyone willing to sell

According to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, the total loss due to the outbreaks was around 1.4 million chickens by 21 September.

A total of 50 outbreaks – of two strains of avian flu (HPAI H7 and 10 HPAI H5) – were reported.

What are liquid and powder eggs?

Balarane said table eggs are the fresh eggs that you buy at the stores. Liquid and powder eggs are processed forms of the food that are usually used in bakeries. They are eggs that come without shells.

The liquid eggs are separated from their shells, chilled and then pasteurised. To get the powdered form, the liquid egg is dried and then converted into a powder.

Are SA’s poultry products safe to eat?

Although the avian flu has led to shortages in poultry products, the chicken and eggs that are available to South African consumers is safe to eat.

“Consumers can also rest assured that any eggs and poultry that they may find at their local
grocers are safe to eat. There are many strict guidelines for safety measures in an outbreak like this
where we can with certainty be comfortable that the eggs that are sold are safe to eat.

“In fact, avoiding eggs can do more harm than good for our health as eggs are a cost-effective and nutritious food for any time of the day,” said Balarane.

Empty shelves at stores

Meanwhile, at some grocery stores, shelves that usually have eggs remain bare. Some retailers, such as Woolworths, are rationing the number of eggs that can be bought by each customer.

“As a temporary measure, we therefore have to limit whole egg purchases to one pack of six eggs per customer,” Woolworths said last week.

ALSO READ: Woolworths limits eggs you can buy: here’s how many and how much it’ll cost

Government looking to import

Last month, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development said it was looking to import broiler eggs to address the egg shortage in South Africa. Broiler chickens are usually raised for meat rather than eggs.

According to spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo, the government is exploring various markets across the world to purchase eggs as a short-term solution to the shortage of eggs on retail shelves. It is considering markets from Africa, Europe, and South America.

South Africa already has an import relationship with countries like Brazil, the US, and Argentina. These markets play a significant role in supplying bone-in chicken imports to the local market.

ALSO READ: Bird flu latest: Retailers in a flap as cracks deepen in egg, poultry supply

Additional reporting by  Amanda Visser and  Akhona Matshoba

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