Suspension of Malaysian farms will keep egg prices high: Experts

Egg prices are expected to remain high after three farms in Malaysia were suspended over a Salmonella scare.

Supermarkets and wholesalers here have put up prices due to a supply shortfall caused by the suspensions earlier this year.

Industry experts say they are unlikely to fall for the time being, as Malaysia remains the main source of eggs for Singapore - which has no other affordable alternative sources.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority suspended the third egg-laying farm in Malaysia last month.

Eggs from the Charoen Pokphand Jaya farm in Johor were found to contain Salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium that causes food poisoning.

Two other farms - Chong Ne Nam and Teo Seng Farm 8 - were suspended in March and July respectively for the same reason.

Fresh eggs at FairPrice now cost $1.95 for a pack of 10 and $5.75 for a pack of 30, up from $1.65 and $4.70 respectively at the start of August when the price hikes first started.

A FairPrice spokesman added that prices rose about 12 per cent on average over the last six months.

At Giant, a pack of 30 eggs costs $5.70.

A spokesman for Dairy Farm Group, which owns Giant, said its prices have increased by 4 to 7 per cent over the past four months.

Mr Tan Lau Huah, chairman of the Eggs Import/Export Trading Association, said prices have reached a 10-year high, with wholesale prices peaking at $2.40 for a dozen.

"The last time prices rose so much was during the Sars period in 2003," he said.

Housewife Maria Tan, 47, who buys about 30 eggs a month, said: "Everything costs more these days, so I have no choice but to pay a dollar or two more a month for eggs."

The suspensions have reduced the daily import supply by about 30,000 eggs, according to Mr Tan.

Singapore imports about four million eggs a day from Malaysia.

Mr Tan said that the association has tried to source eggs from other countries, such as Australia, in the past to diversify supply, but found that it was not feasible due to the high costs.

"Eggs from Australia cost more," said Mr Tan.

"A box of 30 will cost the customer more than $10. That's just too expensive."

lesterh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 22, 2014.
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