The Federal Government has been called upon to ban or impose additional duty on the importation of egg powder (dehydrated and powdered eggs) to save the country from economic waste associated with the import valued at over $1 billion yearly.
Egg powder is rich in vitamins, minerals, and is used in confectioneries such as ice-creams, cakes, cookies, noodles, doughnuts; feed mills; and pharmaceutical industries. It is also used in infant food formulae, fish meals, pet foods, and cosmetics.
Checks by The Guardian indicates that of the two egg powder facilities in Nigeria now, only one is working below capacity, while the other one is still under construction in Ondo State.
The first and only functional plant is located in Atoyo-Ijebu, Ijebu East Local Government, Ogun State, run by Answer Industries Limited. The second egg powder facility, Greenfield Assets, located in Ondo State, is still under construction.
Director of Operations, Answer Industry, an egg powder processor in Atoyo-Ijebu, Ogun State, Mr Samuel Shewoniku, disclosed to The Guardian during a visit to the factory that: “Currently, we are not working up to the installed capacity, but we can still process about 50,000 eggs in a day. This is close to one tonne per day depending on the size of the eggs. Though we have been trying to expand, before we can do that, we must have a market for it.”
It is believed that the frequent egg gluts in the country would be minimised if there are many companies producing egg powder and that production could trickle down to the poultry industry and propel greater investment in egg production. This, in turn, would increase job opportunities and alleviate poverty.
Shewoniku added: “If we have demand, we will order for eggs. And if, for example, you as our customer produces 50 crates, and we are buying all the crates and still they are not enough for us, and many people are equally buying from you, you would be forced to increase your capacity, knowing that you have a ready market.”
He explained that children in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) need eggs, and powdered eggs could serve their purpose to avoid malnutrition, wasting and stunted growth. The facilities could also do contract production for poultry farmers having challenges with the sale of their eggs to avoid post-harvest wastage, as fresh eggs can last for only about three to four weeks.
The chairman of the Answer Industries Limited, owner of the pioneer egg powder facility in the country, Mr Segun Shewoniku, said poultry farmers and PAN should also encourage the conversion of fresh eggs into powder and create awareness about its wholesomeness as a lasting solution to gluts and associated losses.
On entrenching the egg powder industry in Nigeria, President of PAN, Mr Ezekiel Ibrahim Mam, also admitted that converting eggs into powder forms would not only prevent intermittent fluctuations in demand and post-harvest wastage but would also attract more investments in the egg production sector. This, he added, would have multiplier effects on job creation and poverty alleviation.
Prince Adetoyi Olabode, former National Vice President (Southwest), the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), and now Commissioner for Agriculture in Ekiti State, had said: “If investors can come together, it is a good business opportunity and if the government is looking for investors in the area of poultry production, I think along the line.
“The government should give an enabling environment for egg powder companies because the country is importing more than $1 billion worth of egg powder in a year.”