February 9, 2004



Hong Kong Poultry Prices Up 50%


Poultry prices in Hong Kong shot up 50% as the bird flu outbreak in the region led to severe chicken shortages.


After a week of ban, the territory lifted the restriction of live chickens from local farms to be sold at the markets because of concerns about bird flu.


Hong Kong remains unaffected by the avian flu that has taken hold of 10 Asian countries.


The day before chickens were sent off to the markets, Hong Kong authorities were busy doing random checks, taking blood samples to test for the H5N1 virus.


This was even after the birds had their inoculations against bird flu and other such infections.


By late morning, the wholesalers had sold off the first batch of chickens after almost a week's ban and cleaners were busy disinfecting the place.


However, all these extra precautions taken by the government have not lifted sales much.


Poultry vendors are still selling a third less than usual and prices have gone up.


Mr Wong, Poultry Stallholder, said: "Most people are still worried about eating chicken, still very cautious. Whether it's Hong Kong chicken or mainland chicken, many are still not eating. Everybody knows that Hong Kong chicken is now more expensive, so that's another reason."


Restaurants have been the main buyers since without poultry, many face restrictions with their menus.


Live chicken has been banned for sale from infected areas for almost a week now.


Live traders reached an agreement with the government to resume local supply of chicken on Monday.


So far, only 18 out of 150 farms are supplying the chicken.


In a bid to keep Hong Kong bird flu-free, authorities continue to tighten border checkpoints, banning poultry imports from affected regions and carry regular cleaning at the farms and markets.