Egg Vendors Warned Over Price Gouging

Eggs For Sale

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit on Monday threatened to take legal action against vendors for price-gouging after egg prices shot up.

The price for chicken eggs shot up by five to six baht per tray of 30 on Monday, with the Layer Chickens Association attributing the increase to the high cost of feed and veterinary drugs.

Mr Laksanawisit said the ministry had yet to approve price increases for eggs and chicken and he advised businesses producing or selling egg products to inform authorities of their production costs and seek approval before increasing prices.

He said the Internal Trade Department was keeping a close watch on prices for egg products so as to reduce the impact on consumers already reeling from soaring pork prices.

Manote Chuthapthim, president of the Layer Chickens Association, said egg prices had risen from 2.80 baht apiece to three baht as farmers could no longer absorb rising costs.

The cost of feed is also not expected to fall in the foreseeable future.

Even so, ex-farm prices of eggs in mixed sizes must not exceed 3.44 baht apiece, as the Egg Board had set the mark-up ceiling at no more than 20% of the cost, Mr Chuthapthim said. Prices would eventually decrease during the school term break and the annual vegetarian festival, he said, but did not explain why. Nor did he explain veterinary drug costs.

The country currently has about 50 million laying hens that produce around 40 million eggs per day, mostly for the domestic market, according to the association.

Wattanasak Sur-iam, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said on Monday laying hen farmers and egg traders have agreed to maintain the price of assorted chicken eggs being sold in front of farms at a ceiling of 3 baht per egg for six months.

He said the agreement was reached during talks between the department, chicken egg producers, traders and exporters as well as the Livestock Department.

Mr Sur-iam said price increases were being caused by a reduction in supply after laying hens were spent and removed from farms.

He said the Livestock Department promised to bump up the number of laying hens to shore up egg supply and added that the Internal Trade Department will discuss with agencies about cutting production costs for chicken egg producers.