Canadian Poultry Magazine

Features 100th anniversary Key Developments
The Egg Situation

April 1929

November 5, 2012
By G.M. Swan Publicity Director for the BC Egg Pool and Poultry Association


It is very doubtful if Canada, as an egg producer can yet be considered to be on an export basis.  In other words, we do not appear to have arrived at the point where our national production has reached our national consumption.

It is difficult, if not impossible, however, to arrive at a definite conclusion as to this from existing sources of information be they government statistics or otherwise.

As an instance it is understood that importations of eggs in less than one hundred case lots are not taken into account in compiling government trade returns.  This alone would represent a very considerable volume in imports that largely remain unaccounted for.

In addition to this, Glasgow, because of adverse marketing conditions refused to take delivery on some ten thousand cases of eggs sold last April for fall delivery.  This entire shipment, while appearing in trade returns as having been exported, was in fact thrown back on the home market, to be absorbed, on the top of our storage stocks already set aside to supple home consumptions.

Set out against this is the fact that a Federal Gov’t return shows that we imported last year from the United States and other countries approximately one million dozens of eggs in the shell, and over three million pounds of frozen meat.  It will not therefore be hard to arrive at the conclusion that, given orderly and intelligent distribution, together with relief from the unfair dumping of foreign under-grades, we should find a profitable home market for our entire production for some years to come.

Our present position however is far from reassuring.

Conditions in the United States egg market today are very similar to what they were there two years ago, when prices fell to twenty one cents per dozen for “extra-firsts” f.o.b. Chicago.

During that period we enjoyed a protection of nine cents per dozen under the then effective dumping regulations.  The prospects fro this season are, that with these dumping regulations no longer in effect, and with only the existing protection of a three cent duty to rely upon, that the market may fall to a point six cents lower than it was two years ago.

While it is true that last year we had only this three cent dozen duty as protection, it must be remembered that the American market remained firm throughout, with prices ruling at thirty-one cents per dozen f.o.b. Chicago.  Today however, with the market continuing to soften, eggs are already five cents below that figure.  Twenty-six cents f.o.b. Chicago can be put on Toronto and Montreal markets at around thirty cents, and the latest information is to the effect that many cars of American importations are now rolling on these eastern markets.

Just what this means to the British Columbia producers may be gauged from the fact, that it costs between four and five cents to assemble, candle and pack eggs.  Freight rates from B.C. points to Toronto and Montreal markets approximate six cents per dozen. This means that if B.C. eggs are going to compete with these foreign importations on our eastern Canadian markets, the B.C. producer is due to receive from nineteen to twenty cents for top grades.

Such prices can spell only total demoralization of the industry in British Columbia.

In full realization of the precarious position of their members, the executives of the four western Provincial Pools are urging Ottawa to place a dumping duty of nine cents per dozen on all eggs coming into Canada “BELOW THE SPECIFICATIONS OF CANADIAN EXTRAS.”

This can, in no sense, be regarded as a tariff duty calculated to raise the price of eggs to the Canadian consumer.  Canadian, and particularly B.C. top grade eggs produced on the continent, and it is not the desire of the home producer to ask protection against legitimate competition form legitimate grades on the home market.

What he does ask is relief from the expense of holding the umbrella up over the American producer by permitting him to glut our home markets with his less desirable grades at sacrificial prices in order to relieve the congestion due to over-production in his own heavily protected markets to which we are denied access.

It may be accepted as a fact that there is small prospect for the exportation of eggs at a profit to distant competitive markets, and that in most instances these exportations are made solely to relieve the pressure at home.

Reference to the reports of the Heads of Sales Departments of large producer organizations will show that they baldly refer to their export business as “dumping operations.”

The Egg and Poultry Pools of our western provinces have been organized primarily for the purpose of preventing the indiscriminate dumping of the home products on the home market with its devasting effect on home prices.

This, in so far as their own production is concerned, they can without doubt do, because they will be able to effect control over its distribution as to time and place.

A part from the measure of relief asked for however there does not appear to be anything that can be done to protect them from the foreign dumping of low grade products. 

Another request being made of the government by the producers is that the dumping duty on frozen egg meat be made permanent.  For some reason the existing dumping duty of 17-1/2 per cent on a minimum valuation of forty-five cents per pound (which was considered sufficient) was removed last year for a period of five days, during which time a great volume of this product poured into the country.

Hoe much of the volume that came in during that five days went to make up the three million pounds imported during the year, and how much of that again went to make up the one million, seven hundred and fifty odd thousand pounds of Chinese product imported during the year is hard to say.

That the lowering of the barrier against the “dumping operations” that brought this large volume of low-grade product into Canada had a very adverse effect upon our markets, and incidentally upon the operations of our poultry products cannot be well denied.

In view of this, the request of our poultry producers for relief from this unfair competition should receive the support of every public body, with the welfare of British Columbia as their objective.

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