January 15, 2004



Thailand Anticipate Strong Chicken Sales


Chicken sales in Thailand are expected to remain strong ahead of Chinese New Year despite the disease scare in the region.

Chicken sales are unlikely to be severely hit by the cholera that has plagued many farms in the central provinces or bird flu that has struck farms in other countries in Asia.

Siri Thinpayup, head of the indigenous chicken farmers in Klong Wua, a tambon in Ang Thong province said indigenous chicken were fairly disease-resistant and that the current outbreak of cholera had only hit farms in some provinces.

Mr Siri said he expected robust sales of indigenous chicken next week as Chinese people buy the meat to serve over the new year starting on Jan 21.

In expectation of increased sales, chicken prices in Thailand have risen more than 20% to 90-100 baht each for a processed chicken. The price of a live chicken is around 65 baht.

An estimated 500,000 chickens are expected to be sold for Chinese New Year in Greater Bangkok.

"Normally, Chinese use chickens to pay homage to house spirits during the festival,'' Mr Siri said.

The country raises around 120 million indigenous chickens a year compared with 930-980 million broilers which are exported.

"Consumers will see that an indigenous chicken has a small size with longer legs and a smaller breast,'' he said.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob confirmed yesterday that Thailand was free of bird flu and said it had contained the spread of cholera and respiratory problems in the poultry industry.

"I would like to insist that we have not found any infections in Thai chicken that are related with bird flu disease,'' Mr Newin said. "What we have found is that some chickens have been infected with cholera and have respiratory problems such as trachea bronchus.''

He added that these diseases are not transmitted to humans and that around 400,000 chickens throughout the country have died so far, half of them killed by cholera.

European Union officials are expected to visit Thailand next week to investigate the situation, Mr Newin said.

Juntanoo Satyawadhana, managing director of Tanaosree Thai Chicken Co, said the tight controls set up by the Livestock Department guaranteed that chickens affected by cholera would be destroyed and not enter the market.

The bird flu has spread to chicken farms in many countries including Vietnam, Japan and South Korea. The Thai Livestock Disease Control Bureau insisted this week that Thailand was still free of bird flu.

Chaveevan Khampa, the president of the Poultry Promotion Association of Thailand, said exports of broilers remained strong with a brighter outlook as chicken production from some countries had been hit by the bird flu.

She said current export prices of broilers remained high at about US$2,800 to 3,600 (108,920 to 140,040 baht) per tonne, compared with $1,500-1,800 in the first quarter of last year.

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