MEXICO - The Mexican egg industry finds itself in a recovery mode after the H7N3 Avian Influenza outbreak which decimated the layer flock in the primary egg production region of the country, writes Chris Wright, senior editor of ThePoultrySite.
During the “Emerging Poultry Disease Course” held in Mexico City at the end of September, industry recovery and egg supply replenishment were discussed in detail.
At the event, organized by ANECA the Mexican Poultry Science Association, the short term and long term solutions to the problem were presented. Over 22 million layers were lost, between mortality and culling, which represents 15 per cent of Mexico’s egg production.
The resulting scarcity of eggs, one the most basic foods in the Mexican diet, created soaring egg prices, caused price speculation, and quickly came to the attention of the highest levels of government, including the President.
The state of Jalisco produces 55 per cent of the table eggs in México, of which the Los Altos region accounts for the majority, but not all, of that production. The Los Altos region was the only area in Mexico affected by the Avian Influenza outbreak.
The state of Puebla is the second largest egg producing region, accounting for 17 per cent, followed by Sonora with eight per cent.
In 2010 Mexico had 145 million commercial egg layers, with 80 million located in Jalisco. Some 60 million of those layers were in the Los Altos zone, said Dr. Carlos Ramírez of Gena Agropecuaria, a large egg producing company in Los Altos.
Mexico is the fifth largest egg producer in the world and also the number one egg consumer in the world, with a per capita consumption of 22.36 kilograms a year, he said.
Economic Impact of H7N3
Dr Ramírez addressed the impact that the Avian Influenza outbreak has had on the industry. The commercial egg sector represented nearly 30 per cent of Mexico’s agricultural production in in 2011. Some 80 per cent of the eggs in Mexico are sold in bulk, by weight, while 14 per cent are sold in closed cartons and six per cent are used for egg products.
The total loss to the egg sector is calculated at MX$ 8,617.3 million pesos, according to economists.
These losses not only impacted egg producers, but also the labor force that depends directly and indirectly on those farms. The loss was felt all along the supply chain.
Due to the depopulation of the farms in Los Altos, the daily egg supply was reduced between 43,387 and 47,726 boxes of 360 eggs. That represents 26 per cent of Jalisco’s production or 15 per cent of Mexican egg production.
Dr Ramírez also mentioned the very high prices of corn and soybean meal, basic feedstuffs for poultry, which are having their own negative impact on the industry, particularly at this moment when producers are hoping to limit egg price rises for the consumer.
How to Increase Egg Production
Jaime Crivelli, president of the Mexican Poultry Association (UNA), presented the different measures that are being implemented in order to stabilize the egg market.
- Repopulating with five to six million pullets monthly (knowing that these take 20 weeks before starting to lay eggs).
- Extending the lives of layers currently in production, up to 125 weeks of age, through molting. (It is estimated that 20 per cent of layers in Mexico are molted, and this number will have to increase to 40 per cent).
- Stopping egg product exports from Mexico and using those eggs - 5,000 boxes a day – to supply the local market.
Mexico has authorized egg imports with no duties: 211,000 tons of shell eggs and 24,400 tons of egg products.
Those 211,000 tons of shell eggs are the equivalent to one month of Mexican egg production and the poultry producers are still very upset by this decision, said Mr Crivelli.
Also, 200,000 boxes of shell eggs will be imported from the US for the border states of northern México.
Mr Crivelli said that so far only 4,000 tons of imported eggs have entered the country and these apparently were not well received by the consumers, who prefer very orange colored yolks. Also, there is no cold chain for eggs in Mexico, while there is in the US.
In spite of the fact that few imported eggs have come into Mexico, the poultry sector wants egg imports to officially stop, particularly since the sanitary status of those products is unknown.
Finally, Mr Crivelli reiterated that all the necessary measures are being taken to re-establish and stabilize the markets as soon as possible, since eggs are a product which is not easily substituted. Still, patience is required before everything returns to normal, he concluded.
Further ReadingYou can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.