Malaysia’s egg shortage sets Indian hatcheries on path for record exports

Imports from India have helped Malaysia bring prices down from record highs seen in late December. PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI - India is set to export a record 50 million eggs in January, boosted by sales to Malaysia, where there have been acute shortages as soaring feed prices caused by the war in Ukraine force many small-scale farmers to cut output.

Countries in the Middle East, including Oman and Qatar, are India’s main buyers of eggs. Over the past few months, though, Indian hatcheries have received large orders from surprising quarters as output fell in some of the world’s top suppliers.

The biggest surprise order came from Malaysia, which otherwise used to export eggs to Singapore and other Asian countries.

To secure egg supplies as prices rose to record highs, Malaysia’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mohamad Sabu visited Namakkal, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where several leading hatcheries are based.

“For the first time, Malaysia is buying large quantities of eggs from India, and it seems that India’s egg exports to Malaysia will remain strong during the first half of 2023,” Mr Sasti Kumar, joint managing director at Namakkal-based Ponni Farms, one of India’s leading egg exporters, told Reuters.

India shipped 5 million eggs to Malaysia in December, and will ship 10 million in January and up to 15 million in February, according to Mr Kumar.

Imports from India have helped Malaysia bring prices down from record highs seen in late December. Having suffered a shortfall of 157 million eggs in November, the market gap was down to just a million in December, Datuk Mohamad said in a statement earlier this week.

Malaysia’s egg production would recover in a few months as the government has increased a subsidy, said Mr Tan Chee Hee, president of the Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Association of Malaysia.

Prices in India have shot up to a record 565 rupees (S$9.21) per 100 eggs. Up by nearly a quarter on year ago levels, the high cost of eggs has added to India’s concerns over food price inflation.

Exports are rising amid robust local consumption during the winter months, said Mr Prasanna Pedgaonkar, general manager of poultry-focused Venky’s.

At the same time, Mr Pedgaonkar said, domestic supplies have fallen by around a tenth, as small-scale Indian farmers, like their counterparts in Malaysia, have curtailed production after incurring losses in the past two years due to the high price of feed and the impact of the pandemic.

India’s domestic prices could eventually make exporting eggs less profitable, in which case foreign buyers will have to look elsewhere, said Mr C Panneerselvam, an exporter also based in Namakkal who sold a million eggs to Malaysia in December.

But for the time being, demand is not abating. REUTERS

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