JOHANNESBURG. — Eggs are currently South Africa’s hottest commodity.
The country has been grappling with one of its worst outbreaks of bird flu — millions of chickens have been killed over the past few weeks, supplies of poultry meat have been threatened and supermarkets across the nation have run out of eggs.
Experts predict the egg shortage will cause the popular ingredient to jump in price − far from ideal considering it is one of the most affordable sources of protein for the millions living in poverty.
Retailers, farms and industry giants have also been hit, with the nation’s largest chicken producer stating the flu had “ravaged” a sector already burdened by rising costs and an electricity crisis.
In an effort to stop the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza — a deadly, extremely infectious type of bird flu — farmers have culled more than seven million egg-laying chickens.
That amounts to 20-30% of the country’s entire chicken stock, according to South African Poultry Association.
As a result, social media sites have been inundated with pictures of bare supermarket shelves, while many shoppers found that shops still selling eggs have set limits on how many can be bought.
Online shopping sites are no better – several consumers hoping to buy eggs on the web have been met with “unavailable” or “low in stock” messages.
Domestic worker Nomalanga Moyo buys eggs every week in order to make muffins for her children’s lunchboxes.
Her store of choice is a spaza shop — the term for a small informal outlet — in her township of Diepsloot.
Here, she can buy any quantity of eggs − when funds are low, she is able to get just two eggs for about 2.50 rand (13 cents; 11p).
However, this week, the store was totally out.
“I am now going to wait until I go to work during the week to see if I can find eggs at the normal shops.
However, it will cost me more,” a worried Ms Moyo said. − BBC