‘Eggscruciating’ times: Consumers shell out more for chicken, eggs amid avian flu in SA

As chicken and egg shortages loom, consumers are already paying more for these food products while they are still available in stores. Picture: RitaE/Pixabay

As chicken and egg shortages loom, consumers are already paying more for these food products while they are still available in stores. Picture: RitaE/Pixabay

Published Oct 2, 2023


As the avian flu outbreak worsens in South Africa, consumers are probably starting to notice big increases in the price of eggs and chicken – that is, if they can even find some of these food products on the shelves.

The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1) was first reported in Mpumalanga in May, but as the virus continues to sweep the country, the poultry industry is beginning to take strain and warning of looming egg and chicken shortages.

And as consumers know all too well, the law of supply and demand means that, ultimately, they will probably have to fork out more for these food items while they are still on shop shelves.

The SA Poultry Association has confirmed that the number of avian flu cases in the country this year was the highest since an outbreak was first reported on commercial farms in 2017. As a result, the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (Bfap) says poultry and egg prices have substantial upside risk in the coming months. The current outbreak has already resulted in substantial culling that will reduce the supply of eggs in particular.

The National Agricultural Marketing Council has released its food price basket costs for August 2023, and, as per the same basket each month, lists the costs of the following chicken-related items:

  • Eggs 18s: R50,89
  • IQF chicken portion: R91,60

While the food basket costs for September will only be released at the end of this month, IOL did a quick online shopping check on the prices of these food products to see if there has been any increase in the past month. The supermarkets used for these price comparisons are Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite, Woolworths, and Spar. Prices and stock availability information were taken from their online shopping portals so the products in the physical stores may differ.


Pick n Pay

Depending on the brand, the price of 18 eggs ranges from R54,99 to R84,99. Two of their brands are out of stock, but the retailer still seems to have a number of egg quantities in stock.

Compared to the NAMC’s August price, the cost at Pick ‘n Pay now ranges from R4,10 to R34,10 higher.


Checkers only has one brand of 18 eggs listed online, and the price of this is R66,99.

The price increase from the NAMC’s August price is R16,10.


Like Checkers, Shoprite only has one brand of 18 eggs listed online. However, these eggs are R49,99, which is 90 cents cheaper than the NAMC average price for August.


Woolworths also has only one brand of 18 eggs available online, and no other quantities available. The price of their eggs is R84,99. This is R34,10 higher than the NAMC average cost for August.


While Spar has stock of eggs in quantities of 18, it does not seem to have stock online of 6s. The price of their 1.5 dozen eggs is R48,00. This is R2,89 lower than the NAMC average price for August.


Pick ‘n Pay

The cost of 2kg IQF chicken pieces is R97,99, which is R6,39 more than the NAMC average price for this food item. It must be noted, however, that the Pick ‘n Pay product states they are braai chicken pieces, so this may or may not have a bearing on the price difference.

The store had stock of almost all chicken products online, except for frozen patties.


The price of a 2kg back of IQF mixed chicken pieces at Checkers is R89,99, which is R1,61 lower than the NAMC price.


Shoprite does not have a 2kg bag of IQF mixed chicken portions online for comparison, but the price of the 1,5kg bag indicates that a 2kg bag would be more expensive than the NAMC price, as it is only R1,61 lower, and for 0.5kg less.


The price of a 2kg bag of IQF mixed chicken portions ranges from R99,99 to R109,99. This is a price difference of R8,39 to R18,39.

Woolworths does, however, still have most, if not all, of its chicken products available.


Spar has two options of 2kg IQF mixed chicken portions available online, and while both seem to be the same brand and same ingredients, one costs R89,99 and the other has been marked down from R84,99 to R71,99. Either way, both options are cheaper than the NAMC average price.

What is interesting to note, however, is the number of chicken items that Spar has listed as being ‘out of stock’. Whether this is due to the avian flu or for another reason, is not yet known by IOL.

Meat prices in South Africa

Domestic meat market prices for most meat types rose in August with international trends, offset by a weaker exchange rate translating to higher meat prices,states Bfap.

The price of pork increased the most (9.9 percent), reflecting reduced slaughters through the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. This was followed by beef (3.4 percent) and poultry (3.4 percent).

* Note: Price differences between the NAMC average cost and those at the online stores may also differ due to the brand and quality of the products. The NAMC does not list the exact brand or type of food product that it uses in its monthly food basket.

IOL Business