The egg crisis in Kuwait is a mix of market forces, bird flu, production issues, feed prices and inaction from government forces. The Kuwait egg market is pretty huge; we consume over a billion eggs a year and we just produce around 40% of that. The rest we have to import from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and India.
Production in the gulf has dropped dramatically this year due to the bird flu epidemic. Kuwait was hit first which led to 6 out of the 8 farms to stop production, cutting our production levels to 15%. These farms have just recently started production and will take another 12 months to reach their full levels.
Saudi Arabia has recently been hit by the bird flu virus which has cut their production. This has also led to Kuwait placing an import ban on Saudi eggs in order to protect our local farms and people.
Due to the high demand from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries our other exporters like Jordan and Syria have placed an export ban to keep the remaining eggs in their own country to avoid their own crisis.
The only remaining eggs that we can import are Indian. Indian eggs are considered the cheapest and lowest quality eggs that you can find in the market. They take over a month to arrive from India to Kuwait via container and sometimes not qualified for human consumption. Sadly main supermarkets are marketing them as “fresh eggs”. Fresh eggs are considered by USDA and GCC law as eggs are maximum 3 days old from the farm. Indian eggs are over 30 days old from the farm.
The other factor in the egg crisis is due to feed supply. Since under Kuwaiti law chickens must be fed 100% organic feed without any chemicals, feed additives or meal. This adds up to 70% of the cost of the egg and this year has been a huge increase in feed prices leading the Kuwaiti egg producers to also increase their prices.
They have requested from the government to offer them a subsidy on the feed to reduce their cost, yet the government has not been helpful. Instead the Ministry of Commerce and Kuwait Coop Supermarket Union has been demanding from them to reduce their prices to pre-bird flu and feed increase prices or face being shut out of the supermarkets.
This is of course a guise of “protecting the consumer”, since they are still selling Indian which are over a month old as “fresh” eggs around 1KD when the real cost of Indian eggs is around 400fils. The Coops are making over 250%. Compare this to real fresh Kuwaiti eggs which are just above that price. This is so they can increase their profit margin by cheating the local consumer and leverage the Kuwaiti egg producers to submit to their control.
Other Gulf countries are facing the same shortage in Kuwait, but instead of fighting the local producers they have been offering them support by giving them bigger subsidies and allowing market forces to choose the egg prices.
So support your local egg producer by buying from their official stores in Shuwaik area near the vegetable market. They are offering real fresh eggs and at reasonable prices, and demand for the Coops to bring Kuwaiti eggs back.