Spike in egg prices raises gouging fear
Panic buying and possible price gouging by some traders is being blamed for the spike in the retail price of eggs which has prompted the Commerce Ministry to threaten stern legal action against profiteering.
Manote Chuthapthim, president of the Layer Chickens Association, said demand for chicken eggs in the past 10 days has surged based on fears of the spread of Covid-19 and the declaration of the emergency decree.
People have resorted to panic-buying after mistakenly believing they will be banned from leaving their homes.
Mr Manote said the price has mostly increased in the retail sector as eggs are still being sold at the normal price of 2.80 baht apiece outside farms. Moreover, farmers have not stockpiled their produce.
However, when people began hoarding eggs, the middlemen or retail shops may have pushed up prices, according to the association president.
The Commerce Ministry said daily egg output has remained stable at 41 million per day.
Size-3 eggs were being sold on Thursday at between 3.50-3.60 baht apiece at a central market in Bangkok managed by the Department of Internal Trade, which is about 50 satang higher than last month. However, the prices are higher than those recorded at the same time last year when the same-sized eggs cost 2.60 baht each.
However, people in some provinces have complained the price has gone up by three to four times.
In Nan, many shoppers bought eggs at Tang Jit Nusorn Market, leading to shortages. Some even made trips to farms to buy eggs directly from the source, leaving even less supply for shops.
An egg wholesaler based in Nan, who asked not to be identified, said stockpiling of eggs by consumers has contributed to the price spike. However, wholesalers have not been delaying supplies to push up prices as they are still delivering the same amount of eggs to shops.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit ordered a ban on egg exports starting on Thursday to ensure there is sufficient supply for domestic consumption. The ban will remain in effect until the Covid-19 crisis eases.
At the same time, the ministry inspected markets in several provinces on Thursdayafter the emergency decree was declared and found eggs were priced at 2.80-2.90 baht each on average with no one charging more than 3.50 baht each.
However, many shops were short on eggs. Some shop owners said the supply of eggs has been lower than they had ordered.
They said shoppers, who previously bought only four to five eggs at a time, were now purchasing them by the dozen or more.
The minister said shops owners who jack up the price of eggs may be jailed for up to seven years or fined a maximum of 140,000 baht.