No quick solutions, just a slow boil


PETALING JAYA: The shortage of egg supply in some parts of the country is due to various factors.

This situation has been made worse by the unexpected behaviour of consumers which have caused a surge in demand, said authorities.

The Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFI) and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) reported that the projection of the demand was not as predicted and eggs are not an item which can be kept in stock for long.

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MAFI secretary-general Datuk Haslina Abdul Hamid said that it is normal for a high demand for eggs at this time of the year, but the problem is usually offset with early preparations and planning since September.

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“At the National Council of Cost of Living (Naccol) meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday, MAFI presented the (supply) situation on the seven controlled items, including eggs. We have no shortage on premium eggs which are not controlled items, but there is a shortage on graded eggs A, B and C.

“However, this time around, there was a sudden surge as consumers are suddenly eating out more and there is more demand for Grade A, B and C (eggs).

“In September, we discussed production issues with egg producers, whose main request was that we relook the subsidy given to them – which is 10sen – as their cost of production has increased.

“The decrease in our currency also lowered their profits as most of the proteins fed to layer chickens are imported.

“We have looked at (feed) alternatives but these alternatives such as planting corn take up to eight months. We cannot resolve these problems immediately,” said Haslina.

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She also said that the farms that export and those that produce for local consumption are different as the eggs for export to Singapore have high specifications which not every farm can meet.

“The complaints of too many eggs in some places while there are none in certain places stem mainly from logistics and suppliers not being able to replenish stocks in time,” said Haslina.

KPDNHEP secretary-general Datuk Azman Mohd Yusof said that the shortage of eggs is not in all parts of the country, but in locations where there is a demand surge.

“We understand that there is a shortage from the farms itself but despite that, we will take action against anyone who raises the prices of Grade A, B and C eggs as these are controlled items. If we find that there are states with no eggs at all, we then request that other states with extra stock to help out.

“I have ordered that there be more enforcement checks by KPDNHEP personnel to ensure that there is no profiteering. The pictures on social media of heaps of eggs being sold out immediately is a common occurrence when there are pocket surges.

“However, I ask that consumers posting these (images) on social media be specific as to where this is happening and if there is profiteering, we can take action.

“It is not an item which retailers can keep or freeze to increase the prices. Furthermore, it is a controlled food item, so be patient,” said Azman, urging consumers to file complaints of profiteering or hoarding to KPDNHEP.

Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said that the shortage of eggs is an issue tied closely to the reopening of the economy post-Covid-19.

“Egg consumption is high now as it is an ingredient in many Malaysian dishes. With the economy now fully reopened and people confident enough to travel and spend, there is an increase in food consumption beyond what was expected.

“Unlike pre-Covid-19, data shows that Malaysians are not waiting for weekends to travel and go out for meals with their family and friends,” said Mohd Uzi.

“However, the supply readiness to meet the surge in demand has not yet reached an equilibrium, causing the shortage.

“We project that this will be resolved by early next year, when demand for food items, including eggs, stabilises. The price of feedstock, which is used in production of food such as eggs, will also hopefully stabilise by then.

“This is something that is happening across the world, not only in Malaysia,” said Mohd Uzir.

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