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Egg Exports Down by 28 Per Cent

by 5m Editor
23 December 2010, at 9:09a.m.

INDIA - Egg exports so far this year are well down from the same period of 2009 as some Gulf states that banned the trade following bird flu outbreaks in India have yet to re-open for imports.

Egg exports have dropped by one-third in the first 11 months of 2010 compared to the same period last year as the West Asia market remains closed due to non-tariff barriers and the high prices are deterring consumption in West Africa, according to Economic Times of India. Average exports have come down to 62.5 million eggs a month in 2010 compared to 90.3 million eggs a month in 2009. In the first eleven months of 2010, exports have come down to 687.9 million eggs compared to 952.4 million eggs during the period last year.

"The country has been made bird flu-free in June this year but the key markets in the West Asia – UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq – have not opened up yet," said V.K.S. Shivakumar, managing director of VKS Farms, the largest table egg exporter from India. His company holds a 70 per cent market share in shipments.

However, Dr A.T. Venugopal, a technical consultant for poultry farmers in India, said that even though the Indian government has declared the country bird flu-free, it has to be approved by the Organisation of Animal Health (OIE). "At present, our status regarding the influenza has been closed," he added.

He said the government should implement a notifiable avian influenza-free establishment (NAI) within highly pathogenic notifiable avian (HPNA) influenza-free compartment as per terrestrial animal health code of OIE 2008.

International trade is governed by WTO agreements and OIE is the guiding force for export-import risk analysis.

"Export from NAI establishment within HPNA-free compartment is 100% safe and free from risk," he added.

While it is perceived that import by West Asia has been banned due to health reasons, traders in India's poultry hub, Namakkal, told Economic Times that the Gulf countries are trying to promote their farmers by not lifting the ban on Indian eggs. Earlier, the country used to export 100 containers (each holding 475,000 eggs) every month to the West Asia but at present, it has dropped to negligible quantities. Only Bahrain and Oman have begun importing eggs after the last bird flu scare in India.

In West Africa, the high Indian egg prices have led to reduced consumption. A carton (each 360 eggs) from India is quoted at $20 while eggs from domestic suppliers are cheaper by two dollars.

"Nearly 50 containers used go to West Africa from India every month. Now it has almost stopped due to the high prevailing prices," K. Singaraj told Economic Times. Mr Singaraj is All India Poultry Products Exporters Association chairman and Ponni Poultry Farm managing director.