Prices drop on bird’s nest used for soup in Thailand

Global Business

bird's nest soup A bowl of bird’s nest soup. Photo courtesy of Stu Spivack/ Creative Commons

A violent insurgency in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces has been raging on for more than a decade. More than 6,500 people have been killed. The violence in Thailand has destroyed the region’s tourism industry.

Some locals turned to another source of income, the sale of rare bird’s nests which are used to make soup. But now that market too has collapsed. Tony Cheng reports from Pattani.

Prices drop on bird\'s nest used for soup in Thailand

Prices drop on bird\'s nest used for soup in Thailand

Violence in Thailand has destroyed the region's tourism industry. Some locals turned to another source of income, the sale of rare bird’s nests which are used to make soup. But now that market too has collapsed. Tony Cheng reports from Pattani.

Everyone is eager to get a visit from these unusual guests. Hundreds of swiftlets nest in the basement of a Thai hotel. They are welcome visitors to Thailand’s deep south where a decade long insurgency has scared other tourists away.

In the town of Pattani, over a hundred buildings have been left to the swifts in the past 10 years.

From the outside, the bird houses are unremarkable, but the insides are rarely seen.

Owners don’t like to risk scaring off the birds. They leave behind tiny white nests, the key ingredient in bird’s nest soup, one of the most expensive ingredients in the world.

Edible birds nest/ Wikimedia Commons

Edible bird’s nest/ Wikimedia Commons

But the nests aren’t worth what they used to be.  

China put import bans into place five years ago, when they found dangerous levels of nitrite in the nests.

And the price for swiftlet nests has stayed low, even though China recently relaxed its ban.

A producer showed CCTV the nests he gets from his bird house every two months.

It used to be worth about $2,000, but current market prices are a third of that.

The Producers blame middlemen who take all the profits, then sell at record high prices to consumers in China.

Bird nest farmers have started processing the nests themselves. They say their nests are the healthiest in the world because they are all natural.

The industry is moving into new markets and developing new products like bird’s nest in a bottle. A product that targets young Chinese consumers, who have neither the time nor inclination to cook.

By Asean5 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Natural Bird’s Nest in one of the cave in Thai Bird’s Nest Island. Asean5 /Wikimedia Commons