While most of us would not buy eggs with cracked shells from the grocery store, there is a demand for these eggs in Dhaka because they come cheaper.
The major buyers of cracked eggs are hotel and restaurant owners, bakeries and roadside food vendors in the city, according to a report by the Bangla Tribune.
Wholesale traders in Karwan Bazar and Tejgaon, Dhaka said cracked eggs are sold at Tk2-3 apiece when regular eggs are sold at Tk6-7 each.
Traders in Karwan Bazar said cracked eggs have high demand – customers crowd the market between midnight and dawn to buy these eggs. In many cases, street children come to this market to score cracked eggs and supply them to the hotels and restaurants around the city.
Using these eggs, hotels and restaurants prepare a number of delicacies, and the roadside restaurants that serve omelettes and poached eggs for breakfast early in the morning use them too, the traders said.
Eggs get cracked mostly when they are transported to the retail stores, said Al Amin, an egg trader in Karwan Bazar. "At least 5% of an egg consignment get cracked during transportation."
However, the cracked egg business takes a hit during Ramadan as the demand goes down, he added.
There are varieties of cracked eggs available in the market, and the price depends on their shell colours.
For example, the wholesale price of 100 white-shell eggs Tk350, while the price of 100 red-shell eggs is Tk450, said the wholesale traders.
The price also varies depending on the source country. For example, the price of 100 eggs from local chickens is Tk900-1,000.
However, sometimes eggs from Pakistani chickens get passed on as local eggs as they look similar.
"There are many dishonest businessmen who cheat customers by selling them eggs produced by Pakistani chickens saying they are eggs from local chickens," said Nazrul Islam, another egg trader. "But we do not do such unethical business."
Md Manju, member of the working committee of Egg Traders Association, said: "An egg goes bad three or four hours after its shell cracks. So no one will sell cracked eggs that are more than three or four hours old."
However, another trader, requesting anonymity, said most of the eggs in the capital are supplied from different poultry farms located in Tangail, Mymensingh, Gazipur and Narsingdi, which means the cracked eggs go bad before they reach Dhaka.
"Eggs get cracked mostly during transportation, and these eggs arrive at their destination at least three or four hours after getting cracked," he told the Bangla Tribune. "So these eggs are already rotten by the time they arrive in Dhaka."
Moreover, dirt and chicken faeces can easily get into the eggs through the cracks, he added.
"The traders in Dhaka then mix these eggs with the good ones and then sell them," he said.
However, when asked, Egg Traders Association Secretary General Md Hanif denied the trader claim. "The bad eggs are always disposed of when we receive them; we never sell bad eggs," he said.
About eight to nine million eggs are supplied to the Karwan Bazar wholesale market every day, from where these eggs are distributed across Dhaka as well as to Chittagong, Narayanganj and Sylhet divisions.
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