Consumers Reluctant to Buy Poultry at Markets

CHINA - Despite raising hygiene standards, poultry stall holders in Beijing are reporting a slump in sales but consumers are still happy to buy chicken from supermarkets.
calendar icon 6 February 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Beijing Dongjiao Market's 50-odd poultry stalls present a tidy look, and the meat appears fresh and hygienic. But vendors do not attract as many buyers as before, thanks to the bird flu scare, say official sources.

Yu Kejun, a vendor, said many individual customers had been staying away from poultry for the past two months. It is only because of bulk sales to restaurants that the vendors have been able to make ends meet, Yu said.

Eight people have contracted bird flu this year, according to the Ministry of Health.

That prompted the Ministry of Agriculture to issue alerts against infection, especially during Spring Festival when potential sales increase.

Though many customers have been buying poultry meat during the holidays, prices have been much lower than they should be, Yu said.

"We used to sell 400 kilos of chicken a day. Now we barely sell 250 kilos and profit has dropped by half," he said.

Human infections
Eight confirmed flu cases in January, the most in a single month since 2003
(China Daily)

Some of the vendors lamented that the drop in sales was costing them a lot. "Selling poultry is my only source of income," said Shi Wei, a vendor in Beijing Baiziwan Market. "If the demand continues to fall, I don't know whether I can afford my next meal."

The Beijing municipal industrial and commercial bureau banned the sale of live poultry immediately in the city after the bird flu claimed its first victim.

But many people are still afraid of contracting the virus and prefer to stay away from poultry meat. Chu Jianjun, a vendor at Yuegezhuang Wholesale Market – once the city's biggest live poultry market – said he used to buy between 800 to 1,000 skinned chickens every month. That number has dropped to 120.

Chu has slashed prices and began selling milk, eggs and other products to cope with the drop in sales, he said.

But some people are still buying poultry. Many of them prefer trusted stores and brands, though.

Tang Lan, a housewife, said kongpao chicken is her family's favourite dish and she still makes it. But she buys the chicken from supermarkets such as Carrefour or Walmart.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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