Egg industry groans under strains

THE layer industry in Zimbabwe remained turbulent in the first quarter of 2016 on the back of a decline in egg demand, an industry official has said.

Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) chairperson, Solomon Zawe revealed in an industry update that the egg market remained over subscribed and the market was soft.

He said a tray of eggs was sold at wholesale prices of between $3,20 to $3,30 yet the break-even price was $3,50.

“The layer industry remains turbulent on the back of a very soft egg market. In the first quarter of 2016, growing breeders had increased by 87%, but breeder chick sales and retentions were 18% lower and breeder production stock was 23% lower than the same period in 2015,” Zawe said.

He said hatching egg production increased by 5%, but imports declined to 79%, resulting in a reduction in sales and retentions of sexed pullets of 35%. The price of sexed pullets also continued to decline and averaged $115 per 100 chicks in March 2016.

Zawe said egg production in the large scale sector appeared to have stabilised and had increased to 1,7 million dozen eggs per month in the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 13% over the same period in 2015.

However, he noted that the wholesale price of $3,20 per tray was 26% lower than the price attained in the first quarter of 2016 and was the same as the price in the last quarter of 2015.

“It is estimated that the total production of table eggs continues to increase due to growth in the smallholder sector,” Zawe said. He said industry representatives reported a build-up of offal at most chicken abattoirs, which may be due to an influx of cheap imports.

Going forward, Zawe said: “I can’t foresee a good outcome by year-end because of hardship in the economy.”–newsday