Malaysian farmers warn of egg shortage

Industry players say the situation was unlikely to ease even next year, owing to several factors, such as the weak ringgit to the USD,


A notice 'eggs sold out' is displayed at a wholesale shop in Seri Kembangan. . —AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

October 19, 2022

PETALING JAYA – Poultry farmers have warned that the current shortage of price-controlled eggs in the market would worsen ahead of the year-end festive season.

Commenting on the phenomenon where shelves at major supermarkets and sundry shops were empty of eggs recently, industry players say the situation was unlikely to ease even next year, owing to several factors.

Federation of Livestock Farmers Associations of Malaysia deputy president Lee Yoon Yeau said that the situation would not improve unless the government floated the prices of eggs that are currently regulated and leave it to market forces.

The mandated ceiling retail prices for Grade A, B, and C eggs since July are 45sen, 43sen, and 41sen, respectively. A Grade A egg will weigh anything from 65g to 69.9g, while B and C eggs are in the range of 60g to 64.9g, and 55g to 59.9g, respectively.

The price control mechanism does not apply to branded or “designer” eggs that are often enriched by the addition of supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and so on, nor does it cover organically-produced or kampung eggs.

Lee said every time the ringgit slides against the US dollar, which is the currency denomination used when importing raw materials for poultry feed, costs go up for farmers.

“If the ringgit slides further against the US dollar in the near future, the imported feed raw material will become more expensive.

“This will lead to higher egg production costs, and farmers will be even more financially constrained.

“The situation will likely continue throughout next year,” he told The Star.

On Monday, the ringgit opened at 4.7 against the US dollar, a level that is close to its historical low.

Johor-based egg producer Wong Wei Chang said the prices of maize and soybean meals – the two main ingredients for chicken feed – had gone up this month.

“Maize that costs RM1,600 per tonne last month has increased to RM1,700, causing operating costs to increase again.”

Due to the higher production costs, Wong said he had to cut down his production from 160,000 eggs to 120,000 eggs per day in the past two years.

“For now, I have to cut down on egg supply to my regular customers. I also have to turn down new orders because I cannot increase production. When I turn to bigger farms for help, they are also facing a shortage,” he added.

Wong said failure to safeguard the interest of farmers can have disastrous consequence for egg production, which depends on many variables, including the weather.

“A hen lays an egg a day, and there will be days when it does not. Farms are not factories.

“It’s not like you can recover production in a day or increase production when you feed the hens more.

“The upcoming rainy season will also affect egg production in hens,” said Wong, who hopes the new government will look into poultry farmers’ issues and adopt a win-win solution so that consumers can buy eggs at reasonable prices.

Supermarket chain NSK Group is also facing problems with its supply of eggs, with its group senior advisor Datuk Lim Choon Se saying suppliers could only meet 30% of his supermarkets’ demand, and described the situation as serious.

“The eggs are not enough. We have to set purchase limits among customers, but not for hawkers,” he said, adding that the eggs also sold out quickly within hours after arriving at most outlets.

Klang Coast Sundry Goods Merchants’ Association president Tan Teck Hock said egg supplies among members dropped 50% since last week.

He said some consumers had to resort to buying kampung eggs, which are not price controlled.

A sundry shop owner who only wants to be known as Chaang concurred, saying some of his regulars got angry when they could not buy eggs.

“I also see more new customers who come to my shop looking for eggs, including hawkers who ask for more supplies,” he said.

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