Consumption and prices of both chicken and eggs have gone down drastically due to the bird flu scare – Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
Muted impact in South India
Prices of poultry products such as chicken meat and eggs have taken a beating over the past couple of days as consumers have started shunning them.
In North India, the steep decline in offtake has impacted the prices, said Ramesh Chander Khatri, President of Poultry Federation of India (PFI).
“The farm-gate prices of chicken have started falling significantly in the last few days. While the price was between ₹90 and ₹100 a kg last week, it is now being sold for ₹50-55 a kg. Even the consumption is down by nearly 70 per cent,” Khatri said adding that this was mainly due to unnecessary scare being created by the media that poultry consumption could lead to contracting the infection.
Daily offtake suffers
According to Khatri, the daily consumption of chicken in North India, on an average, is around 2.5 crore kg. PFI has over 2,000 members, including many major poultry farms in the country.
Khatri said the scare has also caused a dent in egg consumption in north India. Both consumption and prices have gone down by 15 to 20 per cent since the cases were reported, he said.
Md Imran Sharef, who owns Al-Maaz Foods at Asia’s largest poultry market at Ghazipur in Delhi, too, agreed that chicken prices have come down significantly. “Chicken prices have been fluctuating widely in the last few days. The prices are slightly up today and we are selling it for ₹60-65 a kg,” Sharef said.
Layer birds, ducks & crows
Bird flu is confirmed in six States – Haryana, Himachal, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, according to Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD). There was some unusual mortality of 16 birds in a DDA (Delhi Development Authority) park in south-west Delhi, but the samples are sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal. In most States, barring Haryana and Kerala, bird flu was confirmed either in crows or in migratory birds. In Haryana’s Barwala (Panchkula district), layer birds were found to be affected, while in Kerala’s Idukki and Kottayam districts the infection was found in ducks.
Khatri, who has his office at Sonepat in Haryana, said, “it was layer birds not broiler birds that are affected in Panchakula. Besides, the infection cannot spread far and wide from an infected poultry farms. Birds anywhere beyond 3-5 km away from the farm are absolutely safe.” He also said that nearly 50,000 birds in these farms have already been culled.
The DAHD statement said the infection was found in some migratory birds in Junagarh district in Gujarat and the Bhopal laboratory has confirmed it was avain flu.
Meanwhile, in South also, poultry sector has come under pressure in Telangana and Kerala. “Prices of broiler chicken have fallen by 5-10 per cent in some areas of Hyderabad. The egg prices (at the farmgate) fell to ₹4 a piece from ₹4.60 early this week,” a poultry farm owner said. The retail rate of chicken is ruling 5-10 per cent lower than last week’s price of ₹200/kg.
Though the consumption has not been impacted much, Telangana poultry has suffered in the form of slackened demand from other States. “We are one of the top three poultry players in the country. Though the bird flu has not impacted the birds here, it did hurt the consumer sentiment,” an official of Telangana Poultry Federation said.
Binny Emmatty, president of Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy in Kerala, said that the consumer behaviour towards chicken meat and eggs has reduced the retail demand and there was a 20 per cent drop in sales in the last two days.
Kerala consumes one crore kg of chicken per week valued at ₹100 crore. Of this, 50 per cent of the production is met from the State itself.
TP Sethumadhavan, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Kerala, said that they have initiated appropriate outreach programmes to create awareness among consumers on poultry products.
(With inputs from KV Kurmanath in Hyderabad and V Sajeev Kumar in Kochi)