Opening of borders can ease South Africa’s egg shortage

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The Egg Organisation of the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) recently expressed its appreciation for the announcement made by the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, that importation of fertile eggs for hatcheries, as well as products such as powder and liquid eggs, will now be allowed. These are positive steps to support the industry during this crisis.

Under normal circumstances, the South African egg industry has about 27 million hens that provide us with eggs daily. Unfortunately, about six million of those layer hens have been culled with another three million suspected to be affected. As an industry, we have fully agreed to import a bulk of powder and liquid eggs which are mainly used for industrial purposes, and then channel all the available fresh table eggs to the consumers. This will assist us during the egg shortage while we are rebuilding the flock size and waiting for vaccines to be allowed in South Africa.

Read more about the South African strain of avian influenza.

We also believe that most of the Southern African Development Community countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, and Malawi, which are free from avian influenza, can assist the industry to fill in some of the necessary supplies.

Protecting consumers from substandard eggs during egg shortage

Unfortunately, in 2017 during the previous avian influenza outbreak, we had poor, rotten eggs dumped into South Africa from South America. This unfortunately caused damage to our industry’s reputation as consumers were not happy with that product. This led to the revision of the current R345 of 2020 Regulations. This regulation sets out clear rules for anyone wishing to import shell eggs and products into South Africa.

The 40 days from the day of lay is to protect the consumer from poor quality eggs in the market. The eggs are refrigerated as low as 1 to 4oC from exporting countries while transported by sea to South Africa. Immediately exposing the eggs to ambient South African temperatures increases the decline in quality. South African eggs may not be sold after 40 days from the date of lay. The rule applies to all unpasteurised table eggs sold in South Africa.

Read more about the South African poultry industry.

The call from Hume International for immediate legislative intervention by uplifting the 40-day rule under regulation R.345 and assurance for importers is not supported by the industry.

We call on the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development for immediate assistance to fast-track our discussions to open SADC countries that do not have avian influenza outbreaks at the moment. – Press release, South African Poultry Association

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