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Poultry Sector Hit by 10b Yuan Loss

16 April 2013

CHINA - Losses of poultry-related enterprises nationwide have exceeded 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) since the first case of H7N9 bird flu was discovered, according to the National Poultry Industry Association.

With all live poultry stands shut down in regions with H7N9 cases since early this month, poultry breeders, suppliers and sellers are facing tough times.

Liang Zhong, an officer in charge of the pigeon industry at the association, said: "The price of Huangyu chicken, a type of high-quality chicken, has dropped from 16 yuan ($2.55) per kg to four yuan per kg."

Mr Zhong said supplies of pigeons from Guangdong province have stopped, with very few people daring to buy pigeons, which have been found carrying the H7N9 virus.

Poultry sellers forced to close their stands at agriculture product markets are waiting anxiously for an end to cases of the H7N9 virus, but they are spreading slowly.

Xia Maochun, a poultry seller at an agricultural market in Gaoling Road, Shanghai, and regular supplier to nearby restaurants and residents, said: "I am making some money from transporting vegetables for other agricultural markets... as we are struggling to make a living at the moment."

Mr Maochun faces a monthly loss of about 40,000 yuan after closing his stand at the market and is waiting for further instructions from the local government.

Poultry breeders are also facing hard times with no buyers for their chickens.

"I am losing over 100,000 yuan a month by feeding 6,000 to 7,000 chickens on three farms," said Yang Sizhong, the owner of a chicken farm in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, and known for playing Mozart violin compositions to his chickens in the belief this soothes them and makes for better eggs and meat.

Because of this, Mr Sizhong used to charge 1,088 yuan for each chicken, more than 10 times the usual price. The eggs, with pink, blue or green shells, cost 20 yuan each — 20 times the normal rate.

"The only thing I can do is to feed these chickens with safe fodder and ensure their living environment is clean enough until the H7N9 outbreak ends," Mr Sizhong said.

To meet increasing demands for beef and seafood, restaurants have stopped buying poultry-related products and removed some poultry dishes from their menus.

Liu Yunfeng, marketing manager of Shanghai Old-Town Temple Restaurant (Group) Co Ltd, said: "We've removed pigeon, quail and finch dishes... from our menu since April 3 and carried out examinations to trace the supply of other poultry products."

"We have created 50 more dishes to replace chicken and duck meat with beef and seafood as well as providing more vegetables and other healthy agricultural products to diners," he said.

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