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Why chicken and eggs have suddenly become so cheap

March 23, 2018 15:50 IST

Poultry prices are likely to start firming up in the next four weeks, when the examination season gets over and with the onset of summer in April.

Poultry prices have declined by as much as 21 per cent since the beginning of February, thanks to a weak seasonal consumer demand and a delay in the onset of summer.

 

Besides, consumers have also stayed away from aggressive buying due to a bird flu scare.

Data compiled by poultrybazaar.net, one of India’s leading information dissemination platforms, show that the price of eggs in Delhi declined the most – by over 21 per cent to quote at Rs 3.10 apiece early this week, against Rs 3.95 a piece on February 1.

In Mumbai, the prices slumped 11 per cent to Rs 3.70 apiece from Rs 4.15 during the same period.

Similarly, the price of broiler chicken in Mumbai nosedived 18.6 per cent to the present Rs 57 a kg, compared with Rs 70 on February 1.

In Cochin, broiler chicken is currently selling at Rs 60 a kg, against Rs 69 a kg at the beginning of February.

“The poultry price decline is seasonal. During the ongoing school and college examination period, poultry consumption remains slow.

"We expect its normal consumption to return soon after the exam season gets over,” said Balram Yadav, managing director, Godrej Agrovet Ltd.

Part of the decline in poultry consumption can be attributed to the scare of bird flu or avian influenza (H5N1), which, according to industry sources, erupted in Bengaluru in December last year.

Since then, the Government of Maharashtra has issued alerts of its spread across eleven districts and directed officials in the animal husbandry department to collect samples for testing.

Incidentally, none of these samples was positive.

Avian influenza scare, however, prompted the authorities in Saudi Arabia to suspend the import of poultry products from India, albeit temporarily.

Ramesh Khatri, president of the Poultry Federation of India, blames non-governmental organisations' (NGOs') influence on government policies.

“These foreign-funded NGOs do not want the poultry industry to grow.

"They keep creating panic by declaring avian influenza outbreaks at certain farms.

"There has been no such outbreak in my view, so the temporary suspension on their import into Saudi Arabia is unwarranted,” he said.

Meanwhile, poultry prices are likely to start firming up in the next four weeks, when the examination season gets over and with the onset of summer in April.

“During February and March, we have low poultry consumption. We expect the price of poultry products to start firming up in the second half of April, with onset of summer,” said K G Anand, general manager, Venkateshwara Hatcheries.

Over the past few years, the demand trend for poultry products has changed with an active participation in promotion from farmers.

Compared with earlier, when poultry products were consumed mostly in the winter season, several promotional activities have managed to establish that poultry consumption is beneficial in summer as well.

Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Dilip Kumar Jha in Mumbai
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