Poultry sales, prices fall more than 50% amid coronavirus lockdown

Officials say closure of restaurants has hit hundreds of poultry farmers with sales declining more than 50% due to coronavirus

Shahid Shah
Photo: File

KARACHI: Poultry industry has lost millions of rupees amid coronavirus lockdown across the country, denting sales and nearly halving the prices, industry officials told The News on Saturday.

According to officials, closure of restaurants and wedding events hit hundreds of poultry farmers as sales declined more than 50%.

“There has been an abrupt drop in the demand for chicken and prices have dropped by more than 50% after the spread of coronavirus in the country,” Khalil Sattar, a spokesman of Pakistan Poultry Association said.

Broiler chicken prices have fallen to Rs75-80/kg from around Rs150 before the pandemic, he said, adding that farmers were losing money as the cost of broilers is Rs140/kg.

Sattar said farmers were now reluctant in raising broiler chicks in their farms, while factory owners were leaving new chicks in open fields due to the lack of demand.

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He feared that if the lockdown continued for a longer period, the country would face supply shortage in the coming months.

“When the situation improves, possibly after six to eight weeks, broiler chicken will not be available and prices will shoot up,” Sattar said.

A statement by PPA also warned of a short supply of chicken and eggs in the coming months because of extremely low consumption due to the closure of restaurants, hotels and wedding parties.

“The consumption has fallen and prices have crashed, as such, no broiler farmer is prepared to place day old chicks at their farms, even for free, as a result of which hatcheries have stopped setting eggs for chick production,” the statement said.

Likewise, egg layers have also been culled, which shows signs of a short supply of eggs.

“Until last week, day-old chicks were being sold at Rs2-3/chick against the cost of production of Rs38-40/chick.”

Broiler breeders, which were consuming feed, were selling it at throwaway prices. This will result in short supply in the coming months, it added.

The statement said on resumption of businesses, as usual, after the opening of schools, hotels, restaurants, wedding halls, etc, the demand is going to spurt and due to extreme low availability of chicken, the prices will shoot up.

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If the government intervened by way of price controls, the farmers who have lost during this period will suffer much greater loss and discouragement for resuming production.

Sale of generic agriculture and livestock produce prices fluctuate in a free economy of demand and supply interaction.

“In the current environment, we do not expect the government to reopen marriage halls, hotels, restaurants, etc, as we fully understand that life of citizens is more important, but it is our responsibility to inform the government of what is likely to be in the prospect,” the statement said.

Electricity has become the second-highest input cost in chicken and eggs. To avert the losses, the association has requested for reduction in electricity tariffs and deferring recovery of loans. “The government may have a compassionate look at the demands of the poultry sector,” it said.