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Chicken sales nosedive as bird flu hits Indian city

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TELANGANA, INDIA: Chicken sales fell by about 80 per cent on Sunday in Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, after an outbreak of bird flu, elsewhere in the state, scared customers.

Even as consumers in the city held off purchases, sales of chickens and eggs remained largely unaffected in the rural parts of the state. Neighbouring states, except Andhra Pradesh, also continued to buy products, providing support to the Telangana poultry industry.

“Chicken consumption saw a drop of 50pc in Hyderabad during the first four days after the outbreak of bird flu and crashed by nearly 80pc on Sunday, a significant weekend for the poultry industry, which normally reports majority sales on weekends,” said S. Balasubramaniam, general manager at Venkateshwara Hatcheries, India’s largest poultry company. 

Over the past week, government authorities have culled over 106,000 birds and destroyed over 200,000 eggs from poultry farms in and around Thorrur village, where the bird flu outbreak was reported last Tuesday.

It will take another 30 days for the government to complete clearing operations, including fumigation, before declaring the affected zone free from bird flu, Telangana’s animal husbandry director D. Venkateswarlu told ET.

Chicken biryani sales in hotels and restaurants in Hyderabad also fell almost by 50pc, although both social and print media carried warnings even as animal husbandry officials assured the public there was no threat and advised consumption of poultry products cooked at high temperatures.

“The major solace is that the outbreak of bird flu did not have any adverse effect on sale of chicken and eggs in the rural markets,” Balasubramaniam of Venkateshwara Hatcheries told ET. 

April 27, 2015

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