Egg producers say that they need to get at least Rs.3.50 a piece to run the business without loss

Dwindling fish landings and a shortfall in egg production have led to their prices spiralling out of control in the State, which meets the bulk of its demand for eggs and, to some extent fish, through imports from neighbouring States.

Eggs are selling at Rs.3.95 apiece in the wholesale market in Kochi, maintaining a steady level for the last 10 days. Higher prices of raw materials for feed and increasing egg production costs have resulted in farmers hiking egg prices by 10 paise per piece over the last two weeks.

The retail price of Rs.4.50 or more does not look like going down below Rs.4 in the near future. The wholesale price swayed between Rs.3.40 and Rs.3.50 apiece about a month ago. But it has also now gone up, said a leading egg trader in Kochi.

He said that returns from egg trade had dipped considerably. Egg producers say that they need to get at least Rs.3.50 a piece to run the business without loss.

Production of duck eggs too have dropped. Farmers cite lack of manpower for rearing birds for the drop in production. The retail price of duck egg is at Rs.6 a piece. Ernakulam district requires around 15 lakh chicken eggs a day. The district also needs around 1.5 lakh duck eggs a day. Traders also referred to the fluctuations in the international market impacting the price rates here. Shortage is often experienced when the demand for exports go up, they said. Egg dealers said that the prices might go up if the lorry owners demand an increase in transporting charges in view of the recent diesel hike.

Fish prices

Fish prices too continue to soar, though fishing boat owners describe the current season as better than average when compared to the last three years.

Sardines, an all-season favourite and the poor man’s staple in Kerala, was selling at Rs.120 a kg in the retail market. The wholesale rate at the Champakkara market in the city on Tuesday was Rs.2,500 for a basket of 30 kg, the effective rate nearly Rs.100 a kg as the basket usually contains only about 25 to 27 kg, the rest of the weight being accounted for by the presence of ice.

Mackerels, the other popular variety, were selling for Rs.120 a kg, the variety being made dearer by soaring demand for the fish in the export market. A boat owner said that mackerels of above average size were being cornered by exporters.

Seer fish, much sought after by the rich and in demand among hoteliers, was selling between Rs.380 and Rs.450 a kg in the wholesale market. The retail price had gone up to Rs.500 a kg in recent weeks.

Black pomfrets were selling at Rs.250 a kg in the wholesale market and white pomfrets, an exporters’ staple, were fetching Rs.300 a kg in the wholesale market.

Medium-sized shrimps, local variety, were selling between Rs.200 and Rs.250 a kg in the wholesale market.

Arrival of varieties like anchovy and tilapia, preferred for their lower prices, had dwindled considerably these days, said a fish vendor in the city.

The local variety of karimeen (pearlspot), was selling at Rs.350 a kg in the wholesale market while its substitutes from States like Andhra Pradesh was being sold between Rs.200 and Rs.250 in lots depending on their sizes.

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