Egg prices shoot up in South Africa

 ·8 Nov 2023

Amid the ongoing avian flu outbreak, egg and chicken prices have skyrocketed – with the price of 60 eggs shooting up at triple the rate of inflation in just one month.

South Africa is in the midst of a significant chicken and egg shortage after a high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) strain decimated stocks.

According to the SA Poultry Association (SAPA), so far, 5 million birds have been culled this year, representing 20% of the country’s commercial layer flock.

Additionally, 30% (2.5 million) of the national broiler breeder population have been culled. These are the parent birds that produce the genetic stock for the overall chicken population. This means roughly one in five egg-laying hens being culled or dying

This has led to the prices of poultry products increasing significantly in South Africa.

The latest food basket data from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows that egg prices have increased by 20% from September to October 2023 alone – representing a 36% year-on-year increase.

According to the data, the cost of 60 eggs rose from R136 to R162 between September and October 2023. The increase is almost triple the CPI figure recorded over the same period, which came in at 8.1% in September 2023.

The infographic sourced from The Outlier shows the drastic increase in egg prices.

According to the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of Southern Africa (AMIE), some wholesalers have also reported a 20% increase in the price of whole birds and chicken hearts, a 17% increase in the price of chicken necks, and a 25% increase in the price of chicken carcasses and bones.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile said at the end of October that the government will soon announce a support package for farmers impacted by the avian flu outbreak.

This comes after the poultry industry called for the government to assist farmers who were losing millions to try to contain the outbreak. Along with the almost million dead birds, about 12% of the country’s chicken industry is still under quarantine.

The AMIE noted that although the local poultry industry has initiated measures to address the shortages, like importing over 50 million hatching eggs over the next six months, the reality is that there is a shortage now, which will persist for some time to come.

“To fully restore the parent stock of chickens in the country will take between 12 to 18 months – even when HPAI is under control,” the group said.

Read: Warning over food prices in South Africa

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