INDIA - Chicken sales in Hyderabad are reported to be down as much as 80 per cent as consumers are fearful of recent outbreaks of bird flu in the surrounding area of Telangana state.
Chicken sales fell by about 80 per cent in recent days in Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, after an outbreak of bird flu elsewhere in the state, reported last week, scared customers.
Economic Times of India reports that, even as consumers in the city held off purchases, sales of chickens and eggs remained largely unaffected in the rural parts of the state. Neighbouring states, except Andhra Pradesh, also continued to buy products, providing support to the Telangana poultry industry.
S. Balasubramaniam, general manager at Venkateshwara Hatcheries, India's largest poultry company, said: "Chicken consumption saw a drop of 50 per cent in Hyderabad during the first four days after the outbreak of bird flu and crashed by nearly 80 per cent on Sunday, a significant weekend for the poultry industry, which normally reports majority sales on weekends."
Over the past week, government authorities have culled over 160,000 birds and destroyed over 200,000 eggs from poultry farms in and around Thorrur village, where the bird flu outbreak was reported last Tuesday
According to the newspaper, Telangana accounts for one-fifth of the country's 900-billion rupee poultry industry, producing 500,000 tonnes of chicken and 14.6 billion eggs a year. The industry has estimated a INR1.5 billion loss over the past week, at least.
It may take another 30 days for the government to complete clearing operations, including fumigation, before declaring the affected zone free from bird flu, Telangana's animal husbandry director, D. Venkateswarlu told Economic Times.
Chicken biryani sales in hotels and restaurants in Hyderabad fell almost 50 per cent although both social and print media carried warnings even as animal husbandry officials assured the public there was no threat and advised consumption of poultry products cooked at high temperatures.
Mr Balasubramaniam told the newspaper: "The major solace is that the outbreak of bird flu did not have any adverse effect on sale of chicken and eggs in the rural markets.,"
He added that weekends account for nearly two-thirds of the poultry industry's sales. Venkateshwara Hatcheries with its associates including Sneha Farms controls about 80 per cent of Telangana's poultry market.
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