November 12, 2008

Egg prices to stay high as supplies tighten


Hong Kong's consumers will have to keep paying higher prices for fresh eggs in the near future, according to the government and traders.


One reason is that mainland eggs, which account for 60 percent of the Hong Kong market, are being thoroughly checked to ensure they are melamine free, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat- ngok said yesterday.


Another reason according to The Standard, was tighter supply. The newspaper said higher prices were confirmed by Hong Kong Egg Merchants Association spokesman Young Kam-yin, who said supply from the mainland has dropped by between 70 percent and 80 percent, forcing up wholesale prices to HK$260 (US$33.54) a pallet from HK$230 (US$29.67).


Young said the mainland is also implementing more melamine tests on other products, including chicken feed. He added that since eggs come from different provinces and areas of the mainland, so it will take some time.


Chow said since there has been no change in the cost of eggs sold in Hong Kong that are not imported from the mainland and this should help stabilize prices.


Meanwhile, Albert Chan Wai-yip of the League of Social Democrats asked Undersecretary for Food and Health Gabriel Matthew Leung during yesterday's Legco panel meeting on health services why the government is reactive rather than proactive in dealing with the melamine saga.


Leung's reply: The government has handled the issue efficiently since September 11 when the news broke and that milk samples are collected within a day and tested within two days. In addition, the testing of melamine in food was gradually extended from milk products to also include snacks, eggs and meat.

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