After rallying for some two months with prices breaching ₹300 a kg, chicken prices have cooled off with retail prices declining to ₹160-200 a kg as demand slumps in some key Southern markets.

Though there are instances of increase in prices through the week, the rates have generally shown signs of cooling off, after hitting as high as ₹320 in June. “The demand around this time of the year is generally low. The availability of chicken during summer is an issue for several reasons, including the inability of the birds to gain weight. It pushes up prices. Now that we are going through an austere period — per the Hindu calendar — the demand will be less and prices will stabilise,” a top executive of Venkateshwara Hatcheries told businessline.

The poultry industry feels that the demand will again pick up after October, usually the best season for the industry. The viable farmgate prices of live birds is around around ₹95. This would reflect in a market price of about ₹115-120. In Hyderabad, retail chicken prices fell to ₹180 a kg. It, however, saw a slight spike in the last two days. “It is an aberration. Prices will be around sub-₹200 levels,” a chicken vendor said.

Kerala situation

Kerala market has started witnessing the price drop. W eekly consumption of broiler chicken was one crore kg in the State. Retail rates plummeted to ₹120 for live birds, while the farmgate price stood between ₹90 and ₹98. However, the drop in prices is likely to put small farmers in a precarious situation due to rising production cost, Binny Emmatty, State President of Poultry Farmers & Traders Samithy, said.

Binny, who predicted the price fall after its peak at ₹172 on June 16, said the increase was due to major producers abstaining from rearing which led to supply shortage and resultant rate increase. Now all these firms are back in rearing chicks leading to softening of prices.

TP Sethumadhavan, former director of Kerala Veterinary & Animal Sciences University, cited the extreme summer, increase in the cost of production due to high poultry feed prices and medicines as the reasons for price rise, compelling farmers to abandon production. Reduced production and subsequent supply-demand mismatch facilitated the price increase.

Restructuring needed

He suggested a total restructuring of broiler poultry production in Kerala with incentives or subsidies to farmers and entrepreneurs, market forecasting mechanisms, and the establishment of more hatcheries, processing units, and feed mills. In coastal areas of Karnataka, chicken is being sold in the range of ₹160-180. Arun Fernandes, a farmer from Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, said heavy rains in the coastal region, and the onset of Tulu month of ‘Aati’ are some reasons for the decline in the price of chicken.

Echoing similar views, Aldrin Vaz, an executive working in a private company in Mangaluru, said he usually books chicken on the online platform. He paid around ₹200 a kg when he booked it on Sunday.

(With inputs from Vinayak A J in Mangaluru)