Count yourself lucky if you have a few laying hens providing for your family’s egg needs. Because in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a shortage of shop-stocked eggs, as a result of the culling that has taken place because of  the current spread of avian influenza among commercial poultry flocks.

The current shortage of both eggs and poultry products has got agriculture minister Thoko Didiza so worried that she hastily held meetings with both the SA Poultry Association and with retailers to map out a plan to help consumers.

Containment measures

A statement from Didiza said she had briefed the retailers on the 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. This includes vaccination of still healthy birds.

Retailers told her the main challenge is primarily on the egg production side, where there are already supply constraints in some areas. Anecdotal evidence suggests that retail egg prices have just ab out doubled overnight in some shops.

Egg rationing

After the meeting it was announced that at least two retailers, namely Woolworths and Pick n Pay, have taken to rationing egg sales – in the case of Woolworths to six eggs per customer.

Didiza said she is “focusing on measures to improve the availability of egg supply to consumers and simultaneously putting measures in place to contain the spread of the disease. “

Import permits

Moreover, she wants to make improvements in the issuing of import permits for egg products to ensure sufficient supplies for consumers. In addition, the minister is looking at the possibility of vaccination and currently reviewing applications by various suppliers.

On the broiler side, Didiza and trade and industry minister Ibrahim Patel are assessing some trade instruments to ease the supply constraints on chicken meat.

Main image: Filo gen, courtesy of Wikimedia

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