June 20, 2021

Eggs peak at Rs 7, ‘cheap’ protein gets pricey | Kolkata News

Kolkata: Hatcheries that had suffered a major setback during the lockdown — due to multiple factors, including a decline in demand following a rumour that chickens were potential sources of nCov — are attempting to recover some of the losses by jacking up egg prices.
The demand has picked up as people have returned to eggs as a vital protein source to boost immunity to fight coronavirus. The retail price of egg was Rs 5 apiece till even a month ago but has steadily increased since and is Rs 7 per piece in most markets across the city at present. In department stores that sell branded eggs, the price per piece, at Rs 10-Rs 12.5, is higher. Though traders said the price could dip after Durga Puja, it is expected to again increase to Rs 7 or higher after Diwali when bakeries increase the demand for eggs for the winter and Christmas.
The hatcheries have also alleged that an absence of monitoring the retail market has allowed middlemen to earn a bumper profit. The farmers sold eggs at Rs 5.1 a piece on Monday. With an additional transport cost of 10p per piece, the eggs reached the wholesalers at Rs 5.2 per piece. From there to the retailers, the cost is hiked by another Rs 1.8.
“There can be a difference of 50-75 paise per piece, but there is now a difference of nearly Rs 2. The price should not have exceeded Rs 6 a piece,” a source said.
The consumption of eggs in Kolkata is pegged at 1 crore per day, while the state consumption is around 2.8 crore. But in March and April, the state consumption had dipped to around 1 crore and the price had plunged to Rs 4 apiece. The glut at the hatcheries led to eggs being buried and chicken sold or culled to reduce consumption of chicken feed. “In just two months, a third of the capital invested in the poultry business was wiped out. The Centre announced credit for the MSME sector, but the poultry business was left out. Hatcheries are now taking fresh loans and that is adding to their interest burden,” said West Bengal Poultry Federation general secretary Madan Mohan Maity.
Maity said supplies that are down 25%-30% will be restored within the next couple of months as the chicken population increases. Also, there is no crisis in availability. So the price hike was the result of additional investment made to revive the industry. “The ex-farm price has gone up from Rs 4 to Rs 5.6 a piece. By the time it comes to the market, it is 10 paise dearer due to the transportation cost. While the farm gate price may reduce a bit, egg prices might stabilize around the Rs 6-Rs 6.5 mark for some time,” Maity said.

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