Ukraine has seen egg consumption rise in its home market and built a thriving egg export industry, but history suggests that rebuilding it may take some time.
The ongoing aggression in Ukraine, a leading egg-producing country, and a major cereals exporter, will have consequences for local and global egg production. A review of previous conflicts may give us some ideas of what lies ahead for the country’s egg farmers.
When Iraq declared war against Iran in 1980, Iraq was producing 47,850 metric tons (MT) of eggs per annum, putting it at 55th on the list of egg-producing countries. Output in the country had increased 2.3 times over the decade prior to the war.
Given that the conflict was mainly focused on the border between these two countries, egg production was not particularly affected. In fact, it grew at a slightly faster rate in Iraq (+33.1%) compared to the rest of the world (+29.6%).
Internal unrest in Iraq once the war ended led to the egg sector’s slow decline. By 2002, egg production, at 53,100 metric ton, was back at its 1978 level.
Globally, since 2002, egg production has increased by 59.6%, but in Iraq by only 5.3%, equating to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of only 0.27%. At 55,920 MT, Iraq fell to number 81 in the world’s egg producer ranking. Despite being home to 40 million inhabitants, the country produced fewer eggs than Uruguay, home to only 3.5 million people.
Syria offers another example of egg production devastated by wars. Between 2000 and 2011, egg production in Syria grew by 35% to reach 171,871 MT, putting it in 46th position in our global ranking of egg-producing countries. By 2020, however, Syria was reporting only 121,483 MT, a decline of 29.3% since 2011. This decrease was equivalent to about 47 eggs per person per year. Fortunately for Syria, Turkey has been more than willing to supply eggs to compensate for the shortfall.
In 2011, Venezuela produced 256,054 MT of eggs, putting it 5th in Latin America behind Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, and enjoyed a 46.6% growth since 2000.
However, by 2020, egg production in Venezuela was down to 165,362 tonnes, a decline of 35.5% and Venezuela after nine years of civil unrest and had been overtaken by Peru, Guatemala, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
Since 2011, Venezuela’s production loss is equivalent to 53 eggs per person per year. It does not appear to be compensated by official imports from neighboring countries, meaning a true loss in protein intake for the local population.
Ukraine has been the rising star of the egg-producing world. Between 2000 and 2013, its egg production increased by 125.8% or a 6% CAGR, adding 625,000 metric tons of eggs, the equivalent of the Netherlands’ 2020 egg production. In 2008, Ukraine broke into the list of top 10 egg producing countries in the world, reaching the eighth spot in 2011. This growth fueled an increase in home consumption (annual consumption of 278 eggs per person in 2019) and a thriving export business of shell eggs (14% of production) and egg products (31% of production).
The current conflict not only will put a temporary stop to this amazing growth of the Ukrainian egg sector, but will also cause immediate global consequences on the price of feeds and other key farm inputs.
We would like to express our solidarity with Ukrainian egg farmers and the Ukrainian people.