Cheap Ukrainian eggs keep weighing heavily on the Latvian egg industry, Jānis Gaigals, chairman of the board of the Latvian Poultry Industry Association, told local news outlet Neatkariga.
“In the case of Latvia, this [egg imports from Ukraine] is a huge problem. There is no other country in the European Union where so many egg products entered at dumping prices,” Gaigals said.
“Our farms must produce eggs in compliance with strict EU chicken welfare rules. As a result, the production costs in Ukraine – where labour and raw materials are cheaper, EU regulations do not have to be followed, and there are no import duties on the EU border – are up to 3 times lower than in Latvia,” Gaigals said.
Even when transport and logistics costs are taken into account, Ukrainian eggs remain highly competitive on the Latvian market, he said, adding he is not questioning the need to assist Ukraine in principle.
“Ukraine should be helped in all possible ways, but this way of doing it does not help Ukraine – it helps 2 or 3 Ukrainian oligarchs who do not live in Ukraine but in Zurich, Vienna and London,” Gaigals said.
Since the EU abolished import duties on Ukrainian eggs last year, imports jumped nearly tenfold, Gaigals said, adding that neighbouring Poland experiences a similar problem, though its market is 20 times larger than in Latvia, so the inflow of cheap Ukrainian eggs doesn’t create such a huge problem there.
There is no production certified according to EU standards in Ukraine, according to Gaigals, who warned that Ukrainian companies not only have no need to comply with strict European welfare standards, but they also have their hands untied in terms of using antibiotics in large quantities.
“We know that in many parts of the world and also in Ukraine, antibiotic drugs are probably used to make chickens healthier and lay more eggs, but it’s the same as with doping in sports – problems emerge with time. In the store, customers turn to the cheapest offer without thinking about these things,” Gaigals said.
Latvian poultry farmers have already lost hope that the authorities will support their business.
“We have no illusions. The government’s declarations and beautiful slogans about support for export-oriented companies, the fight for Latvian producers, the development of the circular economy and the like do not work in real life. The industry wants equal conditions, fair competition at home, and equal state support as in neighbouring countries,” stated Gaigals.