Egg powder production: Stakeholders, farmers raise concern on sustainability
That food processing industries in West Africa spend over $2 billion yearly on import of egg and milk powder products, may no longer be news. What is of concern is that Nigeria accounts for 50 per cent of this amount, spending $1billion yearly on egg powder imports alone.
This is due to the fact that the product is in high demand in food processing and beverage industries for production of baby food, pastries, custard and other confectionaries.
Powdered eggs are fully dehydrated eggs. They are made using spray drying in the same way powdered milk is made. When the powder is mixed with water, it produces liquid eggs, which can then be used just like fresh eggs. It can be fried and eaten. With or without mixing with water, the powder can be added to confectioneries before baking or other forms of cooking.
The major advantage of powdered eggs over fresh eggs is the shelf life, as it can last up to five years or more if stored in the right environment. Other advantages include reduced weight per volume of whole egg equivalent, smaller usage of storage space, and can be used without rehydration when baking.
As at last December, only one factory is said to be into egg powder production in the country, this is basically due to the huge capital involved, as production of egg powder requires a sophisticated factory to ensure the powder is free of antibiotic residuals and bacteria.
Due to this fact, demand for egg powder outweighs its supply, compelling continued importation of the product.The immediate past President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, disclosed that inability of more companies to go into egg powder production accounted for the massive importation of egg powder.
The launch of the N42b Egg Powder Plant in Ondo State, last February, was a welcome development, to reduce the country’s total reliance on import.Aside the fact that it will save the country foreign exchange in the region of $1b, 25,000, new jobs is expected to be created, in addition to increased incomes for poultry farmers.
The state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu said the factory would have great economic impact on the state, nation and in West Africa, adding that it attests to his administration’s determination to industrialise the state.
When it is fully operational, it is expected to produce 10 million broilers per year with a 4,000 birds per hour meat processing plant; a 600,000 layers farm for the production of 100 million eggs per annum; two 20 tons per hour feed-mill and a 500,000 eggs per day.Experts and stakeholders in the poultry value chain perceive this development as a lasting solution to the seasonal egg surplus bedeviling the poultry industry. To them, aside high cost of input, infrastructrure challenges and competition from cheap imported poultry meat smuggled into the country, the issue of egg surplus is seen as a major challenge that needs to be tackled headlong.
A poultry farmer, Taiwo Bashorun said due to the challenge, farmers and egg suppliers record losses because they are not able to sell off large quantities of eggs. He added that in addition to the high cost of having to store eggs in an electricity-challenged country, keeping large quantities in store is not economically practicable.
However, they are raising concern that some salient factors were not put into consideration before the siting of the company. The factors include, sourcing of quality eggs, pricing, and consistency, among other factors.In his analysis, a Poultry expert and Consultant, Pastor Francis Toromade told The Guardian that the company needs to put so many things in place to ensure sustainability.
One of such is pricing, according to him, beverage companies in the country prefer importation of the egg powder not only because it is not available within, but also because it is a cheaper option. He emphasised that the company must find out what the price is at the international market.“Egg powder is not manufactured in Nigeria because of the high cost of inputs. Chickens need to consume maize as part of the ingredients in their feed to produce eggs. If maize imported into Nigeria, including tariffs cost N80,000 per ton and the one produced in Nigeria cost N140,000 per ton, then there is no way egg powder produced in Nigeria will not be more expensive than the imported ones.
“That is why industries have continued to import egg powder into the country, because they are businesses operating to make profits and their inability to get cheaper alternatives in the country worsen the situation,” he said.
On sourcing of quality eggs, he emphasised the need to ensure the supply of quality of eggs needed for processing, “because the quality of raw materials determine the quality of the finished product. In Nigeria, farm A quality of eggs is different from farm B because of the quality of the feeds the birds are fed. Eggs you use soybean to produce are not the same thing as the one fed on groundnut cake.
“The state government must ensure quality of the egg powder they intend producing to meet international standards. There must be a model to ensure sustainability. The factory must also be rightly located to ensure nearness to raw materials.”
Another question raised is about consistency in supply of eggs, which is a major raw material to sustain the company. Bashorun, who also shares the school of thought, said it takes a lot of eggs, consistency and stable electricity to make egg powder.He added that despite that it is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, continuity is a factor that must be considered, as another governor of the state, especilally from opposition party might not be disposed to the plan.In his submission, Toromade noted that if there are enough functional egg powder production companies in the country, competition may force down the price, encouraging industries to patronise locally produced egg powder and thereby reducing egg surplus.