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Chicken Supplies Down to the Bare Bones

by 5m Editor
5 April 2011, at 10:42am

UAE - Shoppers hoping to buy a plump chicken for dinner may find the bird has flown.

The country's biggest poultry producer has been counting its chickens before they hatched. And the result is a shortage of up to 30,000 fresh birds a day on supermarket shelves.

Al Rawdha Poultry, which supplies up to a third of chickens to supermarkets across the country, blamed "low hatchability" from eggs imported from Europe for a sharp decline in production.

The National reports that the shortage has affected most of the big retailers. Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society has experienced a "significant decline" in available fresh chicken, said Vijay Thomas, the marketing manager.

"They tell us the reason is because of heightened demand over supply. But a situation like that cannot happen suddenly," he said.

“This is the first time we’ve seen this,” Mr Thomas said.

An official at AlRawdha Poultry blamed the shortage on a combination of factors, including an unhealthy batch of breeding stock and some old production capacity being shut down because of a plant expansion.

“The chickens weren’t healthy,” said Ashok Prankian, the sales manager at AlRawdha Poultry in Dubai. “Even the ones that were a day old were very weak.”

AlRawdha has the capacity to produce 48,000 chickens a day but it can slaughter only about 45,000, which has led the company to expand its facilities.

The company said the supply shortage would continue for at least another month as upgrades to its machinery were under way. The work is expected to be completed by 15 May.

“Every day I am getting calls from our clients who are complaining,” Mr Prankian said. “There’s a daily shortage of 3,000 cartons worth of chicken in the market.” Each carton contains up to 10 chickens.

Ras al Khaimah Poultry and Feeding Company, another significant player in the poultry market, also said it plans to close for three months.

“We are going to close in May, June and July to renovate and bring in new machines,” said Dr Mohammed Siddiq, operations manager at the company.

A typical chicken growth cycle, from the time the egg hatches to slaughter, is about 60 days.