HK Poultry Prices Set to Jump

HONG KONG - Fresh chicken prices could rise by about 20 per cent as supply slumps due to the shutdown of market stalls in the battle against bird flu.
calendar icon 26 September 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

More than 70 per cent of poultry stall owners have handed back their trading licences under a government scheme to cut public exposure to live chickens.

One consequence of the move - for which stall holders who give up their licences are being compensated to the collective tune of HK$660 million - is that the supply of live chickens from the mainland will drop to 5,000 a day, according to The Standard.

Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said the price of live chickens could rise by up to 20 percent.

At Cheung Sha Wan Wholesale Market yesterday, a catty [approximately 605g] was selling for HK$22.9 after running at an average of HK$18. Dr Chow explained that as more poultry sellers handed back the licences, the number of chickens available on the market would fall.

Around 70 per cent of poultry wholesalers and retailers had handed back their licences by 24 September, the deadline for applications to an ex-gratia payment scheme.

Only 131 poultry stalls - or about 28 per cent of the previous total - were still in operation.

At a street market in Tai Po, the retail price of chicken increased from HK$35 to HK$40 per catty. There, some shoppers said they would be buying less chicken.

Dr Chow said it was for consumers to make the call on whether to switch from live to frozen poultry.

Asked if the government had bowed to political pressure by paying out compensation despite not meeting the initial target of 80 per cent of stall operators giving up their licences, Dr Chow described the return rate of 72 per cent as "ideal".

" I don't think with such policy, you can achieve the exact percentage that you plan," he said.

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