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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist

Here’s why you may pay more for eggs and chicken this Christmas

AMIE says prices could increase because of the bird flu outbreak and the cost of bringing fertilised eggs into the country.

 The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) has warned South Africans that they may have to fork out more to put chicken and eggs on the table this festive season.

The organisation said prices could increase because of the bird flu outbreak and the cost of bringing fertilised eggs into the country.

More than 50 outbreaks of two strains of avian flu (HPAI H7 and 10 HPAI H5) have so far been reported, with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development calculating the loss of around 1.4 million chickens by 21 September. By early October, about 2.7 million chickens had been culled.

Delays slammed

AMIE slammed the government’s handling of the crisis and delays in rebates on import tariffs. It claimed about 83-millions fertilised eggs imported cost “three-times” more than local ones, making price increases “inescapable”.

“It’s inevitable that this cost will result in price increases which will, of necessity, be passed onto consumers. These price increases have not yet made it onto the shelves, as it affects poultry not yet in the market. However, we expect that this product will enter the market in the first quarter of 2024, with a hefty price increase.”

READ ALSO: Authorities on alert but not expecting ‘fake eggs’ amid shortage

No meat shortage

However, the SA Poultry Association’s Izaak Breitenbach told The Citizen AMIE’s import estimate was way off, and “opportunistic”.

“Fertile hatching eggs are not imported at three times the price although more expensive than locally produced eggs and this price is diluted into the production cost of the whole bird.
“The rebate considered by Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Ebrahim Patel, would only address a shortage of chicken in the market (that doesn’t exist) and will not impact price since importers sell at market prices and, by now with the rebate not yet announced, it will arrive too late to address the perceived problem”.

Breitenbach said the industry is importing a large amount of hatching eggs because this is “a far cheaper option that to import a whole chicken or chicken portions”.
He said the high price of chickens and eggs will likely persist, but won’t get worse, and there will not be any meat shortages from the outbreak.

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

Import of hatching eggs to alleviate shortage

“Due to the disease, flocks were culled and the production of hatching eggs reduced by 30%. Producers are making up the 30% shortage by importing enough hatching eggs to alleviate the shortage.
“The first eggs arrived in early October already and the total amount of hatching eggs that will be imported amounts to 100 million hatching eggs for the next four months. These hatching eggs are used to produce day old chicks and in turn the day-old chicks are grown out for five weeks before they will be slaughtered”.

READ ALSO: Fewer than 5 cases of bird flu in November, but price of eggs could still go up

Last week, the association’s Abongile Balarane predicted the price of eggs may drop for the festive season as stores run promotions. However, he warned it could increase slightly in the new year as suppliers rebuild their flocks.

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