Monday 5, June 2023

Egg prices rise again

Time Digital News: Two pairs of brown farmed eggs were sold at Tk 38 in kitchen markets just four days ago across Dhaka.

Yesterday they were selling for Tk 45.

Strangely, if anyone purchased a dozen eggs, they would have had to pay Tk 120. Yesterday, the same was going for Tk 130.

Consumers in Bangladesh are already facing a difficult time making ends meet for an increase in the prices of essential commodities.

And now eggs, a low-cost source of protein which almost every family tries to include in their diet every day, are eating away a bigger chunk of their budgets.

The price of eggs in the country started spiralling upwards from August 9 and reached a record high on August 13, unseen since the bird-flu scare a decade ago.

Between August 18 and August 24, the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection (DNCRP) conducted raids on establishments involved in the egg trade across the country.

Only then did the prices begin to fall.

However, the relief was short-lived. Prices started increasing again from September 5.

Prices have been increasing over the last four days, confirmed Nurul Alam Shikdar, a retailer in the Pallabi extension area of Mirpur, apprehending that this would continue.

Farmers running large-scale operations alongside wholesalers reason it to be a gap in demand and supply.

They say many farmers suffered losses amid the pandemic lockdowns, when sales dropped while their chickens continued laying eggs. Many could not sustain their business at the time, resulting in an overall decrease in production.

On top of it, feed turned costly, chiefly soybean meal and corn. In the last couple of months, the cost of soybean meal and maize rose by 30 per cent to 40 per cent.

This was coupled with a rise in fuel costs, raising transport charges. All these led to the price spike of the protein item, they added.

The number of eggs on demand is not being produced every day, claimed Mohammad Amanat Ullah, president of Tejgaon's egg merchants' association.

He also claimed that there was no accurate estimate of how many eggs were needed and produced every day.

However, according to the Bangladesh Egg Producers Association, about 3.5 crore to 4 crore eggs are required daily to meet the national demand. Moreover, a large part of the eggs come from farms across the country.

Data from the Department of Livestock Services showed that 2,335 crore eggs were produced in Bangladesh in fiscal year 2021-22, with production more than tripling over the past decade.

Following the August 5 fuel price hike of the government, many truckers refrained from running their vehicles for two to three days as they were bargaining over new transportation rates, said a top official of a farm running large-scale operations.

With egg trucks not entering Dhaka during this time, a gap was inevitably created between demand and supply, which hiked prices, he said requesting anonymity.

Now, farms have actually reduced their egg output, which has become visible in this month's price rise, he added.

It currently costs Tk 9.60 to produce an egg that is being sold at Tk 11.25 to the final consumer after being bought and sold three or four times, claimed Moshiur Rahman, managing director of Paragon Poultry.

According to a DNCRP report, major producers in Bangladesh colluded with each other to send the price of eggs to an unprecedented level in the middle of August.

Usually, wholesalers make a profit of 15 paisa to 20 paisa per piece but between August 9 and August 13, they made a profit of Tk 2.70 per egg, the report said.

As a result, the price of eggs shot up by Tk 30 to Tk 40 per dozen to Tk 160 at one point.


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