Bakery Owners’ Association wants egg imports despite price reduction

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 00:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Demands further price reduction of eggs
  • Suggests egg imports as temporary measure
  • Proposal to be presented before Cabinet
  • Poultry Association assures price drop in coming weeks

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

Dissatisfied by the recent reduction of Rs. 2 in egg prices, the All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association (ACBOA) yesterday requested approval to import eggs as a temporary solution.

ACBOA Chairman N.K. Jayawardena told Daily FT they were not satisfied with the price reduction announced on Sunday, given that current wholesale prices are Rs. 22 when they used to be as low as

Rs. 10. 

“The wholesale price of eggs has increased to Rs. 22 in a way that has not been seen before, so we wrote to the President, Prime Minister, and Finance Minister about this. As a result of that, the Prime Minister held discussions with relevant organisations and reduced the price of eggs [on Sunday],” he said.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday, the All Island Egg Producers’ Association agreed to a price reduction of Rs. 2 from yesterday. The decision was made following a discussion held on Saturday, and the price of a white egg dropped to Rs. 18 and the price of a brown egg dropped to Rs. 18.50.

However, the ACBOA Chairman said, “We met with Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardana [yesterday] and asked that they allow our organisation to temporarily import eggs if they cannot reduce the price further.”

He explained that they do not expect to import eggs but that such a move would put pressure on egg producers to reduce prices. While Jayawardena stated they want egg prices to drop to Rs. 15, he added that the Trade Minister had informed them that the proposal to import eggs as a temporary measure would be presented before Cabinet.

“Egg producers should know that 75% of their production is purchased by us,” he added, and went on to comment that the increase in prices had a significant impact on the industry as eggs are an important ingredient in bakery products.

All Island Poultry Association President Ajith Gunasekara, however, stated that the ACBOA was never satisfied with egg prices and were not as affected by egg prices as they were by wheat flour prices. However, Gunasekara stated that they would consider the concerns and demands of the ACBOA with regard to egg prices. Speaking to the Daily FT, he said, “We can give an assurance that the price of eggs will drop to the usual rate in two weeks’ time.” Gunasekara added that the production of eggs had dropped despite an increase in demand due to several factors, thus causing an increase in prices.

He explained that several farmers shut down their farms due to uncertainties faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially regarding labour and animal feed. In terms of the latter, limitations imposed on the import of maize, which accounts for over 50% of animal feed, impacted the industry.

While local production of maize is being increased, poultry farmers were also given approval to import wheat on a temporary basis to be used as animal feed. Shipments from Ukraine and the US were expected at the end of last month but delays were caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While one shipment has arrived, another is expected on 10 September and farmers have been educated on the use of wheat as animal feed, Gunasekara said.

He added that steps were also being taken to increase the capacity of farms from the current 50% to 60% to 100% in the future.