March 13, 2021 10:31:20 pm
After remaining low for over a month, prices of poultry meat and eggs are back to normal as household consumption picks up. The poultry industry feels is has been able to shed the spectre of bird flu which had seen prices dropping for most of January and February this year.
On January 8, Maharashtra had reported its first case of bird flu when backyard poultry birds in Parbhani tested positive for the virus. After that, 10 other districts had reported the virus, which led to destruction of lakhs of eggs and culling of birds.
Vasantkumar Shetty, president of Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association of Maharashtra, said after hitting a low of over Rs 40-per kg ex-farmgate prices (prices at which farmers sell their market-ready birds weighing between 2 and 2.5 kg), they are back to the Rs 80-85 mark. “Prices had touched the Rs 90 mark but have gone down now,” he said.
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Demand is at about 90 per cent of normal level, said Shetty. On an average, India reports sale of 30 crore eggs and 1.3 crore birds on a daily basis. The bird flu scare had kept many away from chicken and eggs, although properly cooked poultry meat and eggs have been marked safe for consumption. Egg prices have remained more or less in the Rs 4-4.10 per piece range without much fluctuation.
Meanwhile, Shetty and other industry experts said that given the uncertainty about rising cases of coronavirus and subsequent restrictions, poultry farmers have not increased production levels. “Most farms are operating at around 85 per cent of normal levels as no one wants to take unnecessary chances,” he said.
The industry was worried about the drop in household consumption which, said Shetty, has gone back to normal now. Demand from hotels and restaurants, however, is below normal level.
With Maharashtra in the midst of a possible second wave of Covid-19 infections, the poultry industry is wary of a possible effect on sales. Cities like Nagpur, Parbhani, Akola and Nanded have already put in some form of lockdown or restrictions, and poultry sales are likely to be hit in the days to come.
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