The Council of Agriculture (COA) on Tuesday apologized for issues affecting egg supplies that have resulted in shortages in markets across Taiwan.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) wrote on social media that an “egg crisis” is “sparing no one” and there is no quick end in sight.
“I want to remind the Democratic Progressive Party government once again: The people want a government that solves problems, not a government that explains them,” said Gou, who had presidential aspirations ahead of the 2020 election and is expected to launch a campaign for next year’s election.
COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) wrote an apology on Facebook in response to the egg situation, saying that “when Terry Gou becomes concerned about the egg supply, it shows just how important the sustainability of Taiwanese agriculture is.”
Chen apologized for the shortage, but said that agricultural production cannot be quickly ramped up in the way that it can for manufactured items.
Egg-laying hens in Taiwan are procured from feedlots where they are raised for the first two to three months of their lives, he said.
The feedlots get their chickens from breeding farms, which import chickens from the US and other countries, he said.
“If there is a problem in one link of that chain, it can cause a domestic egg shortage,” Chen said.
The shortage this year is being driven by a global outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which has affected poultry and egg production in Europe, Japan, South Korea and the US, he said.
Taiwanese authorities have confirmed 74 cases of H5N1 to date and culled 1.03 million chickens on affected farms in Taiwan, he said.
To replace the culled animals, Taiwan has been increasing imports of breeding chickens since late last year, Chen said.
The government is also working with breeding farms to ensure they are supplying at least 490,000 chicks per week to feedlots, Chen said, although he added that there would be a delay before that supply would result in marketplace balance.
Chen’s post did not give a timeframe for when the situation would improve.
It focused on the importance of modernizing Taiwan’s poultry industry to increase its resilience against bird flu outbreaks.
In separate comments on Tuesday, Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said that the shortage would ease sometime early next month.
Taiwan’s daily egg demand in the past few years has risen to about 24 million, while its daily production capacity during the shortage has been about 22.6 million eggs, Chen said.
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