Egg production has dropped due to the effects of avian influenza, which has increased the price of the product by up to 20%.
The price of eggs is rising, following a decline in the country’s laying bird population due to avian influenza.
The National Corporation of Poultry Farmers of Ecuador (Conave) estimates that since the flu arrived in the country, in November 2022, the price has risen between 15% and 20%.
“The price is rising due to the effect of supply and demand; since there is a reduction in the population of laying birds, egg production decreases”, explains Diana Espín, executive director of Conave.
In Ecuador, 1.2 million birds have died and have been slaughtered due to avian influenza, according to the Phytosanitary and Zoosanitary Regulation and Control Agency (Agrocalidad).
This represents 8% of the total number of laying birds in the country and about 0.5% of the total population of birds in the country, which is about 280 million.
Espín adds that the reduction in the bird population is not only due to influenza. “We believe that there are producers who, due to suspicion of infection or fear of being close to affected farms, sold their birds.”
The price of farm-raised chicken meat, on the other hand, has fallen by at least USD 0.10 per pound, compared to the days before the first outbreaks of the disease in the country; that is, until before November 27, 2022.
Espín explains that this price decrease is due to a greater availability of chicken meat and a slight decrease in consumption due to the economic situation and some fear of consumers about the flu.
The Ministry of Health has clarified that avian influenza is not transmitted through well-cooked food.
How is the price?
Grocery stores in downtown Quito report that the price of a bucket of eggs began to rise about two weeks ago.
In the Frutería Riobambeña, for example, a bucket of 30 eggs costs USD 3.90 for the final consumer. The price has risen by $0.30 in the past two weeks.
Its owner, Andrés Paca, explains that he has been buying the bucket from intermediaries for USD 3.60 for two weeks, previously they left it at USD 3.35.
“People are complaining about the increase and some don’t want to take eggs,” says Paca.
In Abarrotes El Goloso, another grocery store in the city center, the bucket costs USD 4.50 or USD 15 per unit.
Its owner Inés Farinango explains that since before Carnival the intermediaries began to raise the price of the product. “Before, the bucket was at $3.20 or $3.15. Now they sell it to me for USD 3.50 and only for small-sized eggs”.
Due to the increase in cost, Farinango has reduced its purchase of buckets practically in half. Previously, he was buying about 10 a week and now he is buying five or six. Also, she stopped buying the larger egg cartons, because they are more expensive.
On March 7 at noon he only had six eggs left in the store and he was waiting for them to sell him more that day. Meanwhile, a store customer was giving up on buying eggs due to low availability.
At least 757,818 birds, which belong to 35 farms, will be vaccinated in Ecuador against avian influenza, according to Agrocalidad. The process began on March 3, in Pichincha.
Agrocalidad ensures that the 35 farms have already complied with the required biosafety requirements. “It is expected that in the coming days more farms will join the vaccination process.”
Agrocalidad adds that, as the epidemiological situation of the disease progresses, other areas for vaccination will be considered.
At the moment there are 17 outbreaks of avian influenza in the country, which include 22 affected farms or properties. The provinces with the most cases of the disease are Cotopaxi, with eight outbreaks, and Tungurahua, with four.
The cost of the vaccine is USD 0.06 per dose. The full vaccination schedule includes three doses. The price must be covered by poultry producers, even small ones. Despite the fact that, initially, the Government offered to finance small producers.
Agrocalidad clarifies that, under certain circumstances, the birds of small producers may be vaccinated by large poultry. This is in case these small farms are close by and represent a risk to the production of large farms.