Saturday, January 7, 2012
Ban on imports badly affecting demand for white bird’s nest in China
By JACK WONG
KUCHING: Unprocessed white bird's nest prices have fallen further as demand for Malaysia's bird's nest products has been badly affected after China banned their imports about five months ago. “The average price has dropped to around RM3,000 per kilo as compared with RM4,500 before the ban,” said Sarawak Bird's Nest Suppliers Association secretary Colin Wong Chung Onn China imposed an import ban in July after nitrate was found in Malaysian bird's nests.
Wong said although there was demand, most swiftlet breeders were in no hurry to sell at the current depressed prices. “Unprocessed bird's nests can be stored without going bad for about a year with good control of humidity and temperature,” he told The Star yesterday. He said the prices were likely to recover if China lifted the ban soon as stocks of bird's nest products in the mainland were expected to drop to a low level with increased consumption of the delicacy during the Lunar New Year. Locally, bird's nests are packed in gift hampers to be given away during festive seasons.
Agriculture and Agro-based Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar was reported to have said last month that a committee set up by Malaysia and China to determine the permissible level of nitrate in bird's nest products was expected to resolve the issue before the Chinese New Year.
The committee was formed following a meeting between Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and his Chinese counterpart Chen Zhu in Beijing. Its members include food specialists and experts. Liow had said that China would lift the ban after determining the allowed level of nitrate. China is Malaysia's biggest importer of bird's nest products, valued at about RM1bil annually. Wong said Chinese officials and experts were expected to visit Malaysia soon to see how bird's nests were processed.
Asked about the mushrooming of new swiftlet houses, mostly in the central region, Wong said the association did not have the latest figures as most of the new operators had not joined as its members. Sarawak's first swiftlet eco-park in Balingian, Mukah, which will have 40 units of three-storey buildings and 15 units of three-storey bungalows, is expected to be ready next year. The RM40mil eco-park is a joint-venture between state Economic Development Corporation and peninsula-based Borneo Resources Synergy Sdn Bhd.