SA egg shortage likely to continue

In a voluntary update on Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Quantum said trading conditions had improved in the four months ended January 2024, compared to the same period last year.

However, there had been further bird flu outbreaks during this period, affecting chickens worth R37 million.

Quantum said the risk of bird flu was expected to remain high for the remainder of its financial year, which ends on 30 September.

“The Company expects that total egg production in South Africa will remain muted for the next six to eight months whereafter it should increase as the national flock recovers,” it said.

The statement illustrates the difficulties faced by egg producers, who have been hardest hit by bird flu. Chicken meat producers (including Quantum, which also has a broiler operation) have imported millions of hatching eggs to maintain the supply of chicken and ensure there is no shortage on the local market. Prices have remained stable as a result.

Egg producers have not been able to import quality eggs, and so supply has suffered. Quantum said it had produced 60% less eggs in this four-month period, but the 60% rise in egg prices because of the shortage had been insufficient to enable it to recover costs.