Poultry industry looks up as chicken consumption revives across states
|In March, chicken was retailing for Rs 100 per kg. The May 29 retail price for a kg of chicken is Rs220.
Poultry farmers, traders and retailers, at the receiving end of fake news, courtesy social media, attributing consumption of chicken as likely sources of Covid-19, are now enjoying a windfall with prices of broilers having doubled from the early March rates.In March, chicken was retailing for Rs 100 per kg. The May 29 retail price for a kg of chicken is Rs220.
Ramesh Khatri, president, Poultry Federation of India said, “The demand for chicken increased in almost all the states in India, but the situation of the poultry industry has not yet normalised. Right now, production is 20 per cent and demand is 25 per cent so the rates increased. When hotels and restaurants open, at that time demand would increase further. The poultry industry will not be able to match supply till June; but after July, the demand and supply ratio will even out and rates will return to normal. One thing is clear now, people do not have anything in their minds as to there being any relation between the coronavirus and chicken.”
According to several retailers in Pune, on April 1, the wholesale price of broiler was Rs20 per kg. In the second week of April, wholesale prices touched Rs60 per kg. From the last week of April, the price of chicken has steadily increased and in May, crossed the Rs100 per kg benchmark. On Friday, chicken was selling for Rs120 to Rs130 per kg, which is even higher than the pre-Covid 2019 wholesale prices, which was at Rs70 to Rs75 per kg.
Supply struggling to meet demand is being cited as the reason for the increasing broiler prices.
Chicks on the farm need 50 to 60 days to reach the harvestable state. Between March and April, close to no birds were being reared on poultry farms considering the market situation. Supply of poultry feed and farm activities in general were affected by the lockdown.
Ganesh Khairnar, A V Broiler company’s branch manager at Kalwan in Nashik district said, “The poultry industry has seen a bottom and a peak in last two months. As social media linked the coronavirus with chicken, it badly hit the industry. Poultry companies and farmers started throwing the birds in garbage as there was no demand. Even our company started selling chickens in weekly bazaars. There were no consumers. The situation has completely changed and people are more aware now. Demand for chicken has been improving since April as it is good source of protein.”
P G Pedgaonkar, manager at poultry giant Venky’s (Venkateshwara Hatcheries group), said, “Now there is no stigma attached to eating chicken. The situation was worse in February and March due to social media. Despite raising a lot of awareness that there is no relation between chicken consumption and Covid-19, people were afraid and not taking any risk. Now citizens are aware and demand for chicken has increased. The average demand for chicken, pre-Covid in Maharashtra, was 3,000 metric tonnes. Now there is less supply, so rates are good. The current average demand for chicken is 1,200 to 1,300 metric tonnes and the supply side is almost at that level.”
Pedgaonkar adds, “People are more aware about healthy food during lockdown due to Covid-19. The demand may keep increasing.”
Poultry farmer Kiran Thakre from Nashik district said, “Two months ago, there were no buyers for chicken. Many farmers were worried as poultry companies were not buying chicken and the production cost was increasing. Now we don’t have birds and demand is increasing. Many farmers shut down in the month of March, but now, they too are starting their poultry business again.”
Vikrant Patil, a Pune resident, said, “I love chicken, but social media gave a bad impression and my family members did not allow me to eat chicken. Now, during lockdown, I buy chicken two times in the week. Everywhere there are long lines for purchasing chicken in the city.”
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