Consumption patterns, however, remain largely unaffected: Breeders

The outbreak of bird flu in many States and subsequent decisions to ban the import of chicken has resulted in a glut of poultry in the local market here. According to the Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders’ Association, every week 15 lakh birds were being supplied to neighbouring States. With restrictions now in place, this has almost come to a standstill.

The rise in supply of chicken and eggs has resulted in a drop in prices. K.S. Ashok Kumar, former president of the association, said that while the production price was around ₹80 a kg, the market rate was just around ₹60 a kg. “However, consumption patterns remain mostly unchanged for now,” said association president Sushanth Rai.

Both Mr. Kumar and Mr. Rai said that though some were wary of consuming poultry in the wake of the bird flu outbreak, the fact that consumption patterns had remained the same reflected better awareness among people. “Eggs and chicken cooked at high temperatures are completely safe for consumption,” they said.

The true impact of bird flu and other factors, including strike by poultry farmers who are demanding revision of growing charges, will be ascertained only after the weekend. “This is because the consumption of poultry products is maximum during the weekends,” said Mr. Rai.

Industry experts said that poultry farmers and commercial breeders had been giving due importance to bio-security measures, including farm isolation, controlled entry, multi-layer fencing etc. Mr. Kumar said that these measures had ensured the safety of the birds in the farms that eventually reached the consumers’ tables.

“The poultry industry was just limping back to normalcy when the bird flu outbreak was reported,” Mr. Rai pointed out. Months following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the State and unfounded fear and rumours that the virus spread through meat had impacted the poultry sector. The supply had reduced by nearly 40% in April and May.

The poultry industry could not take another hit, said industry experts.

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