Egg prices continue to spike in Japan with the current avian flu season touching a record 16 million birds marked for culling, impacting both the restaurant sector and households already dealing with inflation, Kyodo News reported.
More than 90 per cent of the birds being killed are egg-laying hens, and this according to the agriculture ministry, is limiting the supply of eggs and causing a further increase in prices.
The outbreak of bird flu spread at an unprecedented rate since the start of the season in October, with around 80 cases being reported at poultry establishments in 26 of the country’s 47 prefectures, as reported by Kyodo News.
As of 2 March, the wholesale price per kilogram of medium-sized eggs was 335 yen (USD 2.4) in Tokyo. This is the highest ever since 1993 when data first became available, Kyodo News reported while quoting JA.Z-Tamago Co., the egg seller within the JA agricultural cooperative group.
It further said that concerns about shortages are also rising, with an increasing number of restaurants opting to stop offering egg-based dishes.
It is expected to take at least six months until the availability of eggs returns to its previous levels, Kyodo News added in its report.
As per a standard procedure, when an infection is confirmed at a poultry farm, all of the birds housed there have to be culled. Then the facility is sanitised and quarantine measures are enforced. It takes three to seven months for such farms to resume regular chicken production, as reported by Kyodo News.
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries stated that the work to restart poultry farming has already begun and that production should begin in the early spring.
“However, it would take some time for the numbers to recover because farms won’t immediately start operating at their full capacity,” according to the official, Kyodo News reported.