Achhe Din Aane Waale Hain! (“Good Days are Coming”) Until Then Bear the Brunt of Soaring Prices of Chicken?
Mangaluru: Achhe din aane waale hain (“Good days are coming”) was the Hindi slogan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2014 Indian general election. The slogan was coined by the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with the intention of conveying that a prosperous future was in store for India if the BJP came into power. However, after Narendra Modi won and became the Prime Minister, it has been nearly eight years now, the people of India have not seen any Achhe Din, rather than facing problems in life and paying more prices for commodities, food, fuel- and now meat lovers are paying in big bucks to buy chicken meat. Do you call this Achhe Din, is what we need to ask our beloved PM.
Last evening when I purchased a half grilled chicken at my regular grill shack, the price looked a little more -first I thought I could have been charged for the container like many eateries/restaurants do- but when I asked the cashier why the price has changed-his answer was, “Saar, we have to increase the price a little bit more, since the price of raw chicken has sky-rocketed and also the price of oil and other ingredients. Please bear with us”. Yes, definitely poultry meat is much cheaper and healthier than other varieties of meat such as mutton or beef. A recent international egg and poultry review on India has mentioned that India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing poultry industries.
Chicken prices have witnessed a sharp rise in the past couple of months with the industry reporting a 20-25% reduction in production caused by the pandemic lockdowns, high feed costs, and a rise in mortality of the birds due to the onset of summer. Industry players attribute the short supply to several small players culling their stocks due to high feed costs and poor sales in the Covid period due to the restriction in timings.
A chicken farm owner speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “In the last three months, there have been 25-30% increase in feed cost as corn (maize) rates have increased from Rs 21,000 per tonne to Rs 25,000 per tonne and soya bean meal rates have increased from Rs 55,000 per tonne to Rs 70,000 per tonne. This increases the cost of production of broilers, thus resulting in an increase in the market price of broilers. The rising purchasing power, changing food habits and increased urbanisation is happening everywhere. With increased incomes and urbanisation, people prefer to go for non-vegetarian diets”.
The consumption was impacted in the second wave primarily because of the timing restrictions by the governments and in the lockdowns, it is the small farmer who has been affected the most, he said. Significantly, the online sales by start-ups went up during the second wave although they barely constitute 1% of the total market which currently stands at 2 lakh crore in value, he said. Looking at the present chicken prices, there seems to be no end to the misery of the common man. While still dreading the day fuel prices will go up, there is already a spike in the price of poultry, adding to the list of essential commodities like oil, that has seen prices heading north.
This time the price of skinless chicken per kilogram is Rs 300, up by about 15% from a week back. As of Thursday, a live broiler was retailing at Rs 182 per kg, about Rs 25- Rs 30 more than last week. The de-feathered and de-skinned broiler was retailing between Rs 250 and Rs 300, respectively, up about 20% from last week. Chicken boneless fillets were at Rs 390, again up about 20% from last week’s rates. Poultry outlets say that the price has increased, as the production of chicks has come down, despite not many functions taking place this month.
Norbert Crasta, a poultry retailer at Kadri Market speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “Retail chicken outlets are getting less quantity of produce than the actual demand from wholesalers and poultry farmers from Chikkamagaluru and Hassan. The production of birds is less in this part of the state, with only two large producers, who have capped production after lower demand during the Covid-19 pandemic and increase in feed cost”.
“Previously, when local farm output was reduced, outlets used to procure it from neighbouring districts. This time, farmers in neighbouring districts have kept prices at a higher level, due to the rising input costs, which reflects here too, as landing price after transportation costs keeps the bird prices higher than usual”, added Crasta.