St. John’s — A sizeable 25 per cent increase in the price people have to pay for eggs will take effect at supermarkets across the country on Saturday.
The retail price of a dozen local eggs will move from an average of $9.60 to $12.00. The price of locally produced chicken will also rise by more than 10 per cent.
These price hikes are in the wake of a decision by the Antigua & Barbuda Poultry Association to increase the wholesale price of a dozen eggs from $8 to $10 and of chicken from $5.11 to $5.65 per pound.
General Manager of the Epicurean Supermarket Richard Buoni said consumers would feel the increase immediately and the accepted 20 per cent retail markup would remain.
“The markup is minimal that we put on eggs at 20 per cent, which is a very low markup, so we are just going to have to go along with the price increase and pass it over to the consumer, there’s nothing else we can do,” Buoni said.
“As soon as the new delivery is received the prices will go up,” he added.
Senior Price Control Officer, St. Claire Richardson, said he was not aware of the increase when contacted, but has since said he has begun looking into the matter.
Richardson said the Consumer Affairs Division will analyse the increases to see if they are justified given the higher costs of chicken feed.
Apprised of the whopping increase in both staples, Agriculture Minister Hilson Baptiste said he also did not know of the increase and had not been consulted. He declined to comment further.
Officials said Baptiste – who expressed shock at the extent of the increase – had arranged to meet with the Poultry Association at 11 a.m. today to discuss the issue.
The Poultry Association last increased the wholesale price of eggs in 2008 – when the price moved from EC$7 to $8.
The price of chicken feed in that period has increased from EC$36 to $47.75 for a 55 pound (25kg) bag of chicken feed.
“It is not as if we are being unjustly enriched because it is seven days a week work and the price of feed is not stabilised. We have been absorbing the cost since 2008 … we are not going to remain viable if we don’t increase our price,” said the Association’s vice chairperson Valerie Edwards.
Edwards said there were four increases in 2012 in February, April, September and October. (Antigua Observer)