May 19, 2020


India's chicken price hits an all-time high



The live bird in India's retail market hits an all-time high at INR165 to INR170/kg on Sunday, up from INR135 the previous week, while the dressed chicken was sold at INR250/kg and skinless at INR285/kg, reported The Hindu.


The steep increase in cost of chicken was attributed to poultry farmers backing out on placements of broiler chicks for meat production in farms in February — March due to outbreak of coronavirus and wild apprehensions that the virus was the result of animal meat.


It was during this spell that the farmers suffered huge losses as prices of a live bird dropped to INR5 to a kg of its weight while the cost of production was INR80 a kg. Of this amount, the cost of incubating chicken eggs at hatcheries itself was INR26 to INR27 per a day-old chick. The day-old chicks were supposed to be sold off to poultry farms within 24 hours for placements over six weeks.


In this background, the farmers resisted purchase of chicks as it was largely a demand — supply market that was influenced by apprehensions on meat consumption. As a result, only 30% of birds against the demand were available in farms in the subsequent weeks after farmers resorted to free distribution, culling of birds and selling at INR5 a kg.


It was this shortage in farms that was telling on the market, according to E. Ramesh Babu, general secretary, Telangana Poultry Breeders Association. He said the farmers did not purchase chicks from hatcheries where also the situation was not bright with managements choosing not to set the eggs for incubation over the stipulated 21 days. The hatcheries even resorted to destruction of eggs.


Ramesh Babu also said the prices of chicken were generally high in May because the mortality rate of birds was high due to summer and the weight was also less. He added that there was never such shortage in supplies to market in the past. He expected a loss of INR2,000 crore to the industry during the crisis in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.


K. Mohan Reddy, general secretary, Telangana Poultry Federation, said the supply was not even 50% of the demand presently.


The supplies used to be two lakh birds on weekdays and four to five lakh on Sundays in Hyderabad and surrounding areas. It was only just now that the farmers were back to rearing chicks.