Despite the decline in consumption, poultry prices remained high in Pune as small and medium-sized farmers halted production due to the high cost of raw materials. Industry insiders say the current trend is due to the high cost of soybean meal, which is an important part of poultry feed, and is expected to continue for some time until production and placement of birds in the market resumed.
Traditionally, the start of the holiday season and the previous month of Shravan have seen a drop in the consumption of eggs and chicken due to which the prices tend to go down. Prices increase after the 10 day period of the Ganpati festival ends and consumption increases. Consumption also increases after Diwali, as prices become economical (due to lower production costs) and the onset of cold weather, when people are more open to eating meat compared to summers.
For the past year and a half, however, the poultry industry has been going through a difficult phase with the double whammy of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shortage of raw materials troubling the sector.
Last year unfounded rumors, which linked the then new Covid-19 infection to the consumption of poultry birds and eggs, hit the industry. Towards the end of 2020, consumption took another hit due to bird flu cases reported across the country. The second wave and its restrictions also affected the industry, but, according to insiders, started to see traction once the wave receded.
Since last month saw record prices for deoiled soybean meal or meal, which is an important component of poultry feed, the industry has struggled to make ends meet.
The central government recently authorized the import of genetically modified (GM) soybean meal, the domestic prices of which have been corrected from Rs 110 / kg to Rs 85 / kg currently. However, the cost of producing a 45-day-old bird ready to market, which weighs between 2 and 2.5 kg, is still around Rs 105 / kg.
Currently, the farm gate price (the rate at which retailers buy birds ready for sale to farmers) is around Rs 95 / kg in Pune compared to Rs 84-85 / kg the last year.
Prasanna Pedgaonkar, managing director of Pune-based poultry giant Venkateshwara Hatcheries Private Limited (Venky’s), said the current anomaly is mainly due to a drop in production. “Many small and medium-sized farms have stopped production due to the high cost of raw materials. So the placement is low. This is the main cause of higher than normal prices, ”he said.
The current trend is expected to continue for a few more days until production returns to normal, insiders said.