Business & Economy

US consumers buying eggs in Mexico due to bird-flu triggered shortages

By Daniel Sanchez

Hermosillo, Mexico, Feb 20 (EFE).- Store owners in northern Mexican border states are reporting up to a 50 percent increase in egg prices due in part to a recent surge in demand from consumers in the United States, where an avian influenza outbreak and other factors have triggered supply shortages.

In Sonora, which borders the US state of Arizona, American shoppers began arriving in cities such as Nogales, Agua Prieta, San Luis Rio Colorado and Sonoyta after the culling of tens of millions of bird flu-infected or exposed birds in the US made that product a scarce commodity on supermarket shelves, Martin Zalazar, local president of Canacope, the chamber of commerce for small businesses, told Efe.

“At the start of the year, a carton of 30 eggs was selling for 80 pesos ($4). Now it’s gone up to 120 pesos ($6), depending on the place. And per unit there’s been an increase from 3.5 pesos ($0.17) to 6 pesos ($0.30),” he said.

The spike in prices comes after Mexico’s annual inflation rate rose to 7.91 percent in January, the highest level for that month in two decades.

“The cost of eggs is moving up a lot. According to analysts’ forecasts, these increases will continue until March. We don’t know how high egg prices can go. In border cities, Americans are now crossing over to buy eggs because they’re 50 percent cheaper,” Zalazar said.

At present, 95 percent of national poultry production is consumed in Mexico, which is practically self-sufficient in terms of eggs. But the sudden increase in consumption by US consumers has started to affect the supply and prices in the border region, store owners say.

Fernanda Marquez, owner of a grocery store at the municipal market in Hermosillo, Sonora’s capital, recalled that a carton of 30 eggs that cost 90 pesos ($4.50) last year now sells for 105 pesos ($5.25) because her suppliers, citing the effect of the avian flu, have raised their prices.

“People haven’t stopped buying, but they do ask about the price a lot. They go and when they come back, having checked the prices elsewhere, they buy the eggs because it’s a basic basket product,” the businesswoman said.

She added that in recent days the price of other products like beans, corn tortillas and cheese also has increased.

Mexicans are the world’s biggest per-capita egg consumers at 380 units per person annually, while average egg consumption in the US stands at 287 per year, according to the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat. EFE


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