Bird’s nest prices soar after China lifts import ban

Workers processing bird's nest, that mostly involves cleaning out the feathers.

Workers processing bird's nest, that mostly involves cleaning out the feathers.

KUCHING: Buoyed by strong demand, domestic prices of bird’s nests have soared by over 30% in recent months breaking its six-year historical high.

According to Sarawak Bird’s Nest Suppliers Association secretary Colin Wong Chung Onn, prices of processed bird’s nests have surged between RM9,000 and RM10,000 per kg compared with the historical peak of RM7,000-RM7,500 per kg.

As for unprocessed bird’s nests, the prices are fetching about 25% higher between RM5,000 and RM6,000 per kg from the previous peak of RM4,500-RM5,000 per kg.

This was prior to the price collapse in 2011 when China banned the imports of Malaysia’s edible nests following detection of nitrate in some of the nests.

Wong told StarBiz that “the price hike was stellar in recent months given that the top grade processed nests are traded between RM4,500 and RM5,000 per kg early this year”. At its low, the price was traded at about RM3,000 per kg.

The unprocessed bird’s nests, which hit rock bottom at RM1,300 per kg several years ago, have also rebounded to about RM2,700 per kg in January.

He attributed the strong price recovery in local bird’s nests to China lifting the ban and resumed to import Malaysia’s processed delicacy.

Another key factor leading to the price upswing is Indonesia’s move to source raw bird’s nests from Malaysia for processing after experiencing a drastic drop in its own bird’s nests when its swiftlet production regions were hit by severe haze two years ago.

A further boost to prices was when Malaysia and China signed a deal to ship raw bird’s nests to China last year.

The deal known as the “Protocal of Inspection, Quarantine and Veterinary Hygiene Requirements for the Exportation of Raw, Uncleaned Edible Nests” sets the standards for Malaysia’s 10,000-odd bird’s nest farmers to sell their raw nests to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.

The ministry will then export the “untouched” raw nests to China where it will be cleaned and processed in Qinzhou and then sold to the China market.

According to media reports, Malaysia has a RM22mil joint quarantine, processing and testing plant with China in the Qinshou Industrial Park.

“There is still no green light when the raw nests will be exported to China although it was reported earlier that this could take place sometime this year,” he added.

There are four registered bird’s nest processing plants in Sarawak that were permitted to export clean nests to China.

According to Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Malaysia exported RM135mil worth of edible nests to China annually.

Wong noted that there was also a drop in bird’s nest production in Sarawak resulting in tight supply which fuelled the current rally in bird’s nest prices.

“The volume has come down due to dwindling habitats that provide feeding grounds for the swiftlets.

“Land clearing activities for development and floodings have also been blamed for damages to the environment and habitats for the birds in the urban areas,” he added.

Corporate News , Bird s nests