GEORGE TOWN: The simple egg omelette is going to be more expensive now.
Egg farmers are closing shop due to soaring feed prices and in Penang, egg production has dropped by an estimated 70% compared with two years ago.
With demand greatly exceeding supply, ex-farm prices have risen by at least 10 sen an egg in the past two months and average ones are going for even 50 sen each in wet markets.
In Kampung Valdor, the number of egg farmers went down from 80 two years ago to just 20 today, said Bukit Tambun assemblyman Goh Choon Aik.
“Many closed down because they could not afford chicken feed. Nearly all the ingredients of chicken feed are imported and the rising US dollar is hurting them.
“This is a nationwide problem. Egg farmers are affected everywhere in the country,” said Goh, who had gone to see egg farmers in his constituency yesterday on learning that their prices were climbing.
Kampung Valdor in South Seberang Prai has among the highest concentrations of livestock breeders in the state.
“Kampung Valdor used to produce a million eggs a day. Now, the area can only supply Penang with 300,000,” said Goh.
The problem, he said, was compounded by the low-tech, open system farming practice, which meant that more chickens were dying under the increasingly hotter weather along the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia with the approach of new year.
“If they practise closed systems, it will be cool and well ventilated in the barns and by 7pm, it’s lights out for the chickens to get enough rest.
“They turn on the lights at 3am for the birds to feed and by 8am, come the eggs,” he said.
Farmers, said Goh, could expect 980 eggs out of every closed system barn of 1,000 hens but without that, the farms operated at the mercy of the weather, causing price fluctuations.
He said the farmers were hoping that the federal government would not control egg prices during the festive seasons and to let the market decide on the price.
Yesterday’s prices of premium eggs via a large online grocery store were 51 sen to 52 sen each while smaller eggs were going for between 43 and 44 sen.
A check in Chowrasta Market in Penang Road showed that some retailers were selling eggs at 50 sen each.
One egg seller in the market, however, was seen selling the popular size B eggs at 43 sen each and large double A eggs at 46 sen each.
John Tan, 64, said the current ex-farm prices of eggs had “broken the record” since he started selling these with his father since he was 13.
“Size B eggs are now 38 sen each from the farms. It was just 26 sen each two months ago. I make only a pittance now but I don’t want to strain my customers, who include economy rice hawkers,” he said.
Sim: Let the market forces decide price of eggs
Paying for chicken and eggs