Japan egg prices surge amid record 16 million bird flu cullings

by IANS |

Tokyo, March 18 (IANS) Egg prices are soaring in Japan as the current avian flu season sees a record 16 million birds marked for culling, local media reported on Saturday.

The current bird flu outbreak has spread at an unprecedented pace since the season began in October last year, with at least 80 cases at poultry firms in 26 of the country's 47 prefectures, Kyodo News reported, Xinhua qquoted.

As of March 2, the wholesale price of medium-size eggs was 335 yen (2.5 U.S. dollars) per kilogram in Tokyo, the highest ever since 1993 when data first became available, the report said citing data from local egg seller JA Z-Tamago.

Egg-laying hens account for more than 90 per cent of birds in the process of being culled, according to the agriculture ministry, limiting the supply of eggs and pushing up the price.

Concerns about shortages are growing, with an increasing number of restaurants opting to suspend offering egg-based dishes, the report added.

It is expected to take at least six months until egg availability recovers to former levels, it said.

An official from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that work to resume poultry farming is already under way and production should be active in early spring, noting that "but it will take some time for numbers to recover because farms won't return to 100 per cent capacity straight away," Xinhua reported.

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