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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


Bird flu impact on egg prices won’t be ‘that adverse’ – Didiza

This is despite the cost of eggs rising sharply in the last few months


Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza said the impact of avian flu on egg prices won’t be “that adverse”, despite widespread shortages and the cost of eggs rising sharply over the last few months.

A pack of 30 large eggs at Shoprite cost R60 in September last year and priced at the same amount in February and May this year. The same pack cost R70 in August, but climbed to R75 last month. The current price of 30 large house-brand eggs at Shoprite is R76, or R70 on special.

Meanwhile shelves of eggs are running low, and sometimes empty. When eggs are available, customers have reported only being able to buy smaller cartons.

No impact?  

Speaking to 702, Didiza claimed government was working to ensure the impact was not severe.

“Government working with industry are ensuring that there is not going to be any adverse impact in terms of shortage or what they need…If there is any scarcity, you know that there would always be an impact. But we don’t think it would be that adverse. That’s the discussion we have been having with all the role players that are affected.

“Working with the Department of trade and industry Minister Patel, we are also looking at other instruments which are trade-related so that it eases the importation of both eggs, fertilized eggs, table eggs as well as chicken so that indeed we eliminate the problem that may cause an unnecessary spike in the pricing,” Didiza said.

ALSO READ: Bird flu cracks supply of eggs in some of parts of SA

Eggs safe to eat

Didiza assured consumers the eggs currently on shelves at retailers are safe to eat.

“What is in our supermarkets is safe, I can assure you that because as I say again, on average, everyday our vets will be in contact with the producers, whether they are private vets or state vets. So, we are able to know that there is a problem and we close off.

“And once you close off, we know that that is not going through the normal system. That is why we are confident that what we have in the market is actually safe,” Didiza said.

Impacts

Didiza met with retailers on Monday to discuss the impact of Avian Flu in South Africa.

The meeting followed a discussion held with the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) last Friday.

Department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said Didiza briefed the retailers on containment measures that have been taken to limit the spread of the disease, as well as possible solutions to manage such outbreaks in the short and the medium-term, including vaccination.

“It was evident from the engagement that the main challenge is primarily on the egg production side, where there are supply constraints in some regions of the country. In response to this challenge, the Minister is focusing on measures to improve the availability of egg supply to consumers and simultaneously putting measures to contain the spread of the disease,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Sapa said the country was contending with two different strains of the Avian flu virus, the infamous H5N1 and a new strain identified as H7N6.

Sapa said the number of Avian Flu cases in South Africa was higher this year than in any other year since the first outbreaks were reported in commercial farms in 2017.

ALSO READ: Warnings of further spike in egg prices, as SA loses more than a quarter of supply

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