By; Chika Okeke

Egg glut in Nigeria has over the years become an economic threat that if not tackled has the potential to send a lot of egg farmers and poultry investors in Nigeria completely out of business and derail the effort by the Government to sustain local food production in the country.

In this article, I seek to throw some light into the underlying causes that have over the years given rise to the unfortunate re-occurrence of egg glut every year in Nigeria.

Victoria Madedor had in her insightful article earlier this week titled; “A Personal Observation of the Egg Glut trend in the Nigerian poultry market- A Silent Problem” highlighted some of the possible causes that have consistently given rise to the egg glut crisis and also offered plausible solutions to curbing wastage.

Victoria in her article had tried to highlight the egg glut challenges with major statements. For the purpose of my rejoinder, I would highlight the major ones to which my first part rejoinder hopes to throw more light on.

Her articled inferred and I quote “It is important to note that this reduction in demand for eggs, interestingly, is not real. In fact, market analysis shows that the expected demand for poultry remains high, especially as eggs are still the cheapest source of proteins for the average Nigerian who consumes little protein compared to other citizens around the world”.

Also, she wrote and I quote “Some market journals have reported this artificial glut in the Nigerian poultry market to coincide with the rainy seasons (March to June) in Nigeria. In this period, crops such as maize and fruits tend to have higher marginal profits and become more attractive to local marketers, mostly women who recycle a fixed and limited capital for trading”.

The danger of the above statements is that it alludes to the fact that there is indeed demand for eggs in Nigeria.

In other words, rather than becoming a real glut, it is more of artificial problem. The writer also cited market reports to support the fact that egg is and should be in demand in Nigeria because the average Nigerian consumes egg as his or her cheap protein alternative and source.

Most investors and entrepreneurs that have invested in poultry and egg production in Nigeria have consciously and without doubt bought into the above misconception that there exists a huge demand for eggs in Nigeria. It is on this wrong assumption and market analysis as cited by the writer that most of them go on to make investments in egg production with an assured market in mind.

Does Nigerians consume enough egg to stimulate a sustained demand in egg annually?

First, understanding how Nigerians consume egg and the products that stimulate the demand for egg in its raw form or processed as egg powder would give us a better insight into understanding the consumption pattern and consumer behaviour which creates a demand or glut as the case may be.

– Egg in its raw form; boiled or fried. majorly consumed in Nigeria as; raw egg (boiled), fried egg. This consumption and demand is driven majorly by households, restaurants, hotels, households, super markets and schools.

–  Egg powder. Consumption and demand driven by confectioneries where it is used as key ingredients for; bread, cakes, biscuits, noodles, ice cream, doughnuts etc.

Therefore, in an ideal scenario, egg producers in Nigeria would look primarily to households, restaurants, hotels, schools to supply egg in raw form and also supply in bulk to egg powder processors who would in turn sell to confectionery giants for further use in their products.

Hence for a sustained demand in egg consumption all year round in Nigeria, there needs to exist a sustained demand by the two class of egg consumers and off takers; the citizens (consuming more eggs) and confectioneries (off taking as many egg powders all year round)

In other words, a sustained increased consumption of eggs by Nigerians combined with a sustained demand for egg powder (produced by local processors) by confectioneries is all that egg producers need in an ideal scenario to never experience a glut.

This is where the two big question comes to mind;

–  Are Nigerians consuming enough egg to stimulate year round demand of raw egg?

– Are confectionery giants making demand for locally processed egg powders to stimulate off taking of raw eggs from egg farmers by egg powder processors?

To answer the first question rightly, I will like you to examine the statistics that follows;

Available statistics show that Nigerians on the average consume less than 80 eggs per person annually while countries like China, Mexico and the United states consume estimated 300 eggs per person annually and in South Africa an average 180 eggs per person.

From the above figures, it is very clear that Nigeria is on the lower ebb as far as egg demand and consumption is concerned. It is also safe to conclude from that statistics that demand for egg consumption among Nigerians isn’t really sustained enough year round.

The closest plausible explanation as to why Nigerians consume less egg than most developed nations is simply as a result of the very low purchasing power of the average Nigerian family. Nigerians in fact love to eat egg. Parents would love to have their children eat as much egg as is healthy. However, the economic situation of majority of households means that egg as a sustained part of diet especially for children and consuming adult is a luxury.

How far the upper class and upper middle class households who are currently the major drivers of the demand for egg in their raw form remains limited to the extent of their population size when compared to the struggling majority.

On the other hand, the gain in higher demand that would have been accrued from the demand for locally processed egg powders by confectioneries are non-existent as they are constantly looking abroad to import egg powders.

More so, their resort to importation over the years have been aided and abated by Government’s lack of will to implement a comprehensive policy to discourage importation of egg powders, support to local investors in credit facilities to set up plants, unstable power supply, high cost of production of egg powders in Nigeria among others.

Egg glut is real in Nigeria and the reduction in demand felt by farmers isn’t artificial. It is real and the cycle would continue to repeat until a concrete solution is pursued and implemented by stakeholders.

In Part II of this article, we shall examine some of the possible solutions to finding a lasting solution to the egg glut crisis in Nigeria.

Chika Okeke is the Founder /Executive Director of Feed Africa Advocacy Network, an agribusiness policy advocacy and food security accountability NGO. He can be reached at; chika.ifeokeke@feedafricaadvocacy.org

Victoria Madedor’s article can be read at; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/personal-observation-egg-glut-trend-nigerian-poultry-market-/?trackingId=