It’s All About China: By 2010 many experts believe that China will have eclipsed the U. S. and Europe as the world’s biggest economy. China’s economy has been growing at a frenetic pace for about two decades and this trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. If China buys, the world suffers a shortage. This can be seen in the demand for oil, steel, rubber and the ultimate Chinese epicurean delight – edible bird’s nest.
The demand for edible bird’s nest (EBN) has always exceeded supply and in 2006 farm gate prices (Malaysia) ranged from US$1,200 to $1,800 per kilogram. Prices for processed nests prior to consumption in Hong Kong were from US$6,000 to $7,000 per kilogram. Total retail turnover in 2004 was estimated at US$ 1.3 billion; by 2006 this had ballooned to US$ 3.8 billion. Historically, demand has grown at approximately 15% a year.
Suppliers of Edible Bird’s Nest: Indonesia (60%), Thailand (20%) and Malaysia (15%) are the major EBN producers with Vietnam and Myanmar steadily increasing their production. Nests are also sourced from Sri Lanka, India and – the Philippines. There is no record of Philippine production figures although traditionally the nests are found in El Nido in northern Palawan.
World’s Top EBN Producers, 2006
Indonesia - 60%
Thailand - 20%
Malaysia - 15%
Vietnam, Myanmar, etc. - 5%
Cultured Edible Nests: Originally the swiftlets that produce the nests settled in caves but today the technology for culturing the nests in purpose-built structures exists. The technology was first developed in Indonesia and was transferred to Malaysia by Indonesian ethnic Chinese after the Indonesian race riots in 1997.
Today Indonesia is estimated to have at least 150,000 nest farms while Malaysia, which had a mere 150 nests farms before 1997, reports 30,000 nest farms by mid-2005. Thailand, a latecomer, now has 70,000 farms while Vietnam has 5,000 farms. There are no nests farms in the Philippines.
 Hai and Lee. The Complete Introductory Guide to Swiftlet Farming, .Struan Inc. Sdn. Bhd, Penang, Malaysia, 2006.
 Philippine annual production is estimated at 5 tons.
 2007 Malaysian Swiftlet Farming Industry Report