PETALING JAYA: Egg producers and wholesalers are calling for more practical solutions to deal with the egg shortage, such as halting exports and subsidising the production of chicken feed, to help stabilise the market.
They said that they were operating with higher costs and if more eggs are imported, this would cause them economic losses as the price of eggs will go down.
Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin suggested the government halt price controls on eggs and stop exports temporarily to ensure there will be enough supply.
He suggested the prices of eggs be raised by five to 10sen.
“Due to the shortage of A, B, C grade eggs at the moment, people have no choice but to buy Omega eggs at 75sen each, which is more expensive than A, B and C grade eggs, which are priced at 41sen to 45sen.
“The shortage is affecting food and beverage operators, mamak restaurants and also consumers, which subsequently raises their daily expenses,” he said.
He questioned why Malaysia was exporting eggs to Singapore and Hong Kong when there is a lack of supply here.
“We should take the simple step like many other countries have done, where when there is a shortage, they stop exporting so there is enough supply at home,” he added.
On Tuesday, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu announced that Malaysia would temporarily import chicken eggs as a stopgap measure to address the country’s egg shortage until a long-term solution is found.
He also assured the people that the initiative was not designed to pressure local egg producers through competition, but to prevent disruptions to the domestic egg supply.
Ameer called on Mohamad to clarify the mechanism to import chicken eggs.
“Can anyone import the eggs or can only the government do this? As far as I know, the government is not in the business of importing. The government is there to facilitate and businesses are supposed to import,” he said.
He added that the minister has not given details of countries and breeders from which Malaysia will be importing eggs.
Ameer said he believes egg imports should come from Asean countries as they are nearer to Malaysia.
“Chicken eggs have a very short lifespan of 21 days. It is almost impossible to import eggs from places further away due to logistics.
“We have to import from Asean countries because we can’t import eggs from Brazil.
“But, eggs from Asean neighbours would be more expensive, so how are we going to import eggs if the prices are higher than in Malaysia?” he said, adding that there will be more demand for eggs in the coming months due to festivities.
Egg producer Simple Eggs attributed the current shortage to the hike in prices of chicken feed, bad weather and the labour shortage.
It said chicken feed prices have increased by around 20% to 30%, while the current labour shortage has caused higher operation costs.
The company said it raises free-range chickens.
“But the downside is that we are prone to uncertain weather conditions. Due to the rainy season, our production rate has dropped by at least 50%,” a spokesman said.
Instead of importing eggs, Simple Eggs asked the government to control the cost of chicken feed as most of the ingredients in the feed are imported.
Another option is to ask more farmers to plant corn or subsidise the cost of production of corn so that more chicken feed can be made locally.
An egg supplier based in Selangor, who requested anonymity, believes the price of eggs will go down if the government decides to import them.
“If the government imports eggs, there will be market competition which will cause the price of eggs to drop,” he added.
He added that the current egg shortage is quite severe, and that his business is seeing demand that he can’t cope with.
“For example, if I receive only one order for each customer then, now I will get 10 orders per customer,” he said.
He said if eggs are imported, the situation will be similar to what is happening to local chicken manufacturers who produced chicken parts such as chicken wings, boneless legs and chicken fillets.
“Consumers are more inclined to purchase cheaper chicken from Thailand. Thai chicken is priced at RM9.20 per kg, while local chicken is RM12.50 per kg,” he said.
This, he said, will cause local manufacturers to sell their stocks at lower prices, but they will incur heavy losses.