An outbreak of avian flu last summer in Mexico caused a drastic dip in production of eggs in that neighboring country. As a result there was also a huge price increase. The effect of that is now being felt in Belize, especially in the border districts. Arturo Cantun reports on an egg shortage.
“For the past month or so residents of Orange Walk, Corozal and Cayo have been experiencing a shortage of eggs, and when they locate a store that has eggs on sale it’s normally sold for a higher price than the normal. By average eggs are sold three for a dollar or 8 dollars for a tray. That has changed however, as the demand rises for the commodity. Belize has two main egg suppliers, Country Food and Caribbean Chickens. This morning we spoke with Manager of Country Food, Ervin Platt, who told us the shortage is because of the illegal flow of eggs from Belize over to Guatemala and Mexico where there is an egg crisis.
“The reason for this is because the prices for egg in Mexico and Guatemala are a quite a bit higher; so, the people come in and go around in the stores and buy eggs therefore the demand is higher now in Belize.”
“What is your company doing to keep supplying the higher demand in the country?”
“Well, we are not selling any hens at the moment, we are waiting until they get older so that we will have a higher supply; we have gotten quite a number of new hens but they will not starting production until in about a month but it should make a significant difference.”
“The second biggest supplier is Caribbean Chicken. Manager, Isaac Bergen explained that they noticed a higher demand of eggs about six weeks ago.”
“It’s very difficult because people are asking for eggs all over; what we are trying to do is to make sure that people who buy steady with us that they are supplied as best as we can and we are working at increasing our production so we can supply our local market and we do not sell to anybody who we believe would take it across the border.”
“While egg farmers work diligently in supplying the high demand, eggs consumers in the country have been hopping from store to store in search of the indispensable commodity.”
“I have gone to all the shops but they don’t have and they don’t know when they will be getting. I managed to get $3.00 eggs but the lady in the shop told me that because I am a regular customer that is why I got the eggs. My family consumes about one tray of eggs weekly and this shortage is affecting me.”
“But what about the price we pay for eggs? According to Platt from Country Food the price of eggs is not as a result of the hike in demand but because over the years the egg farmers have been paying higher prices on chicken feed.”
“We have raised the price of eggs because for quite some time we have been trying to keep the price so that people can sell the eggs, 4 for one dollar which has not been happening in the stores for quite some time now. We thought it was a little below what the price should be; we have been trying to keep it the same for some time but it has been very difficult for the farmers to do so. Over the years, the price of chicken feed has been going up and down and the margin has grown less for what the farmers are getting.”
“Based on the information provided by both egg suppliers, an estimated 204,000 are distributed to the entire country on weekly bases. It still does not compare to the Mexican demand where the country poultry industry states that Mexico consumes the most eggs in the world per capita. Every Mexican consumes more than 430 eggs a year.”