Agri Business

Bird-flu impacts chicken sales; demand high for mutton, seafood

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on January 18, 2021

Authorities state well-cooked chicken is safe for consumption

With confirmed cases of avian flu in about ten States, organised players in the fresh meat space are witnessing a drop in poultry sales even as they step up efforts to reassure consumers on their safety standards.

It is also posing some challenges for the restaurant industry which has witnessed a drop in chicken-based dishes, as safety concerns linger in consumers’ mind, even though authorities have said that well-cooked chicken products are safe for consumption.

Deepanshu Manchanda, Co-Founder and CEO, Zappfresh, said, “There is a lull in chicken consumption and we are seeing increase in demand for mutton, seafood and exotic meats. So, the overall demand for meat remains intact as we see the shortfall on chicken getting set-off with higher demand in other meats.” The meat delivery platform said it has rolled out an extensive communication programme to dispel myths about bird flu and is also sharing the test reports of its meats with its customers.

Siddhant Wangdi, CEO, Meatigo, said, “We have witnessed a drop in sales of raw chicken by 15 per cent on a week-on-week basis. But, at the same time, sales of other raw meat products such as mutton, pork as well as seafood have increased by 10 per cent.” He added that the company is actively engaging with its consumers to assure them on its safety protocols and recommending them to only eat cooked chicken over the next few days till authorities are able to control the spread.

Venky’s (India) Pvt Ltd on Monday said that till date in the organised poultry sector not even a single poultry bird was found to be infected by bird flu. According to rating agency Crisil, the avian flu outbreak in India “could pare poultry sales by a third this month.” Dinesh Jain, Director, CRISIL Ratings Ltd, said: “The impact of the current avian flu outbreak on the poultry industry will depend on its intensity and duration. In recent past, the impact of such outbreaks has been temporary due to swift implementation of testing, culling and containment protocols by the authorities. Fears against chicken consumption do not last for more than a few weeks as the infection rate abates.”

Nishanth Chandran, Founder and CEO, TenderCuts, added, “The impact on chicken sales is less than 5 per cent and we have seen an increase in sale of mutton and seafood. We are also seeing an increase in number of new customers, who were buying from unorganised shops, and now have begun buying from us.”

While the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying reiterated on Saturday that consumption of well-cooked chicken and eggs is safe for humans, restaurant industry said they are witnessing some drop in sales of chicken-based dishes. Certain policy flip-flops by State governments like Delhi (on first banning the sale of chicken and later reversing the ban) has added to the confusion among consumers, restaurant industry players pointed out.

Kabir Jeet Singh, CEO & Co-founder at Burger Singh, said, “Chicken sales are down by 45 per cent and demand for vegetarian products has gone up by 25 per cent. We are educating our consumers on the process we use to source chicken and we have valid certificates from all our vendors confirming that their flock of chickens have had no cases of bird flu.”

Published on January 18, 2021

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