Egg consumption in Asia is increasing slightly faster than the global average and is forecast to approach 10kg per person this year, according to Terry Evans in the last part of his examination of the Asian egg industry.
Egg consumption in Asia, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) rose from 8kg per person per year in 2000 to around 8.8kg in 2007 (Table 1). However, because of amendments to egg production and population data since 2007, we have calculated another series on consumption which is demonstrated in Figure 1. These ‘rough and ready’ calculations indicate that the average annual uptake in the region has risen from around 7.8kg per person back in 2000 to 8.6kg in 2007. Since then, it looks as though consumption has continued its upward trend and could well average around 9.6kg per person in 2012, which, if correct, would be just a shade above our estimated global average for that year.
No country measures egg consumption directly, the published data being derived from a number of calculations, all of which incur margins of error. Hence, any series on consumption is at best only a guide to the number or weight of eggs eaten although, more importantly, it can indicate the trend.
The measurement of the number of layers in a country can be imprecise, as can any assessment of how many eggs are laid per bird in 52 weeks. Hatching eggs are often included in the FAO’s egg production figures, and these will represent up to five per cent of the total on a global basis. While the proportions differ from country to country, in some instance, a relatively large volume of production comes from non-commercial or backyard flocks, which are poorly monitored. As a result, accurate data on egg output can be anywhere from five per cent to even 20 per cent wide of the actual figure.
Because of the fragile nature of eggs, losses will be incurred during transit from the farm gate to the consumers’ home or catering premises.
A further problem in assessing consumption are the allowances that need to be made regarding exports and imports before arriving at the total supplies available for consumption.
Another difficulty is that consumption is often expressed as the weight of eggs eaten per person. This involves two further estimates – firstly of average egg weight and secondly of the size of the human population in any particular year. The latter is also relevant to consumption when expressed as a number rather than weight of eggs eaten basis.
Although not a large figure a further complication arises in making an assessment of the volume or number of eggs consumed via confectionary products, particularly where only the yolk or albumen has been imported.
For all these reasons, any series of figures on egg consumption has mainly to be taken as a guide to the trend in uptake. This also underlines the point that comparisons of consumption levels between countries need to be treated with caution.
Few countries carry significant stocks of eggs over from year to year, hence, broadly speaking, what is produced (after allowing for trade changes) will be consumed. So, when production is profitable or future profits are anticipated, producers tend to increase output. Consequently, in a year when this happens, egg consumption in total and also per person (as long as the production increase has outstripped the rise in the population) will rise, though the gain in uptake may not be as large as the increase in output, if there is the opportunity to export some of the extra supplies. It is a mistake to assume that because this has happened, that the demand for eggs has also risen. This can only be ascertained after taking into account of changes in the prices paid over time.
The average uptake varies greatly between countries in this region, from little more than 1kg per person per year to around 20kg. But, it must be appreciated that in those countries with a large human population, even relatively small changes in consumption can represent a large quantity of eggs. For example, consumption in India back in 1999/2000 was just 30 eggs per person when production was less than two million tonnes a year. By 2009/10, uptake had risen to 51 eggs as output had climbed to 3.3 million tonnes, while the latest figure for 2010-2011 of 3.7 million tonnes is equivalent to a consumption of 57 eggs per person.
Although only a small quantity – less than three per cent – of eggs is eaten as egg products in Asia, this sector of the market is growing.
The largest consumer of eggs in product forms in the region is Japan, here it is estimated that some 161 eggs, or almost 50 per cent of the total of 324 eggs are consumed in food products.
In Iran, some 12 eggs per person are eaten in this form while in Turkey, the number is only three.
The information on egg products in Asia in this series of articles was kindly supplied by Morten Ernst, Managing Director of Sanovo International Asia Pacific (mer@Sanovo.com).