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Egg Prices to Remain High as Supplies Tighten

by 5m Editor
11 November 2008, at 9:07a.m.

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's consumers will have to keep paying inflated prices for fresh eggs in the foreseeable future, according to the government and traders.

This is because mainland eggs, which account for 60 percent of the Hong Kong market, are being thoroughly checked to ensure they are melamine free, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat- ngok said yesterday.

According to The Standard, higher prices were confirmed by Hong Kong Egg Merchants Association spokesman Young Kam-yin, who said supply from the mainland has dropped by between 70 percent and 80 percent, forcing up wholesale prices to HK$260 a pallet from HK$230.

Young said the mainland is also conducting more melamine tests on other products, including chicken feed.

"Everybody wants safe eggs, but if the testing time can be shortened the suppliers will not be as nervous," he said.

Chow said mainland egg supply will remain tight while testing continues.

"The central authority has indicated it wants to ensure the food supply in Hong Kong is safe," he said.

"So the suppliers are very careful to screen the source of the eggs before they are imported to Hong Kong.

"This is a temporary arrangement which will certainly result in a temporary shortage."

But he said it is difficult to say how long the shortage will last.

"Our eggs come from different provinces and areas of the mainland, so it will take some time."

There has been no change in the cost of eggs sold in Hong Kong that are not imported from the mainland and this should help stabilize prices, Chow said.

Meanwhile, Albert Chan Wai-yip of the League of Social Democrats asked Undersecretary for Food and Health Gabriel Matthew Leung during yesterday's Legco panel meeting on health services why the government is reactive rather than proactive in dealing with the melamine saga.

Leung replied that the government has handled the issue efficiently since September 11 when the news broke and that milk samples are collected within a day and tested within two days.

In addition, the testing of melamine in food was gradually extended from milk products to also include snacks, eggs and meat.

5m Editor