POULTRY NEWS

EGG PRICES REPORTED SOARING GLOBALLY DUE TO DISEASE

18 million tons, that is the weight of chicken eggs produced every year worldwide according to a special report by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). Largely consumed for their protein intake, eggs are produced in sufficient quantities to meet the demand of all inhabitants of the planet and, very importantly, are available at a relatively cheap price compared to meat. However, their average cost has been rising lately, specifically in Europe and in North America, where production costs have risen dramatically, and millions of laying hens have been infected with avian influenza since last October. According to the European Commission, egg prices have soared by around 22% in Europe and by 44% in the USA, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), compared to last year. Increased costs throughout the supply chain and the current lessened availability of feed and grains directly affected this rise in prices. However, avian influenza , or bird flu, has also played an undeniable part in this phenomenon in those regions, according to Ben Dellaert, from the International Egg Commission (IEC). Since October 2021, over 21 million bird flu cases in poultry were reported to WOAH in several regions of the world. Compared to previous years, this significant number is higher, and more birds have died. This year, some avian influenza outbreaks have led to the culling of thousands of birds. High mortality among laying hens, whether due to the disease itself or the culling measures, has a direct consequence on the number of eggs that can be produced. Looking closer at the USA’s case, the country has now lost 25 million laying hens, reducing their total egg production by 8%. This drop in production capacity causes a financial loss for egg producers, thus leading to a rise in egg prices. Besides eggs, WOAH expects other commodities, like poultry meat, to become less available and more expensive for the same reasons. This situation shows us that animal diseases, such as avian influenza, can disrupt livelihoods and economies and threaten food security worldwide. Putting in place prevention measures, such as setting up appropriate surveillance and enhancing biosecurity in farms, is therefore key to avoid further negative impacts.