Farm-gate price of chicken slowly recovering—BAI

THE live weight price of chicken has started to recover, but poultry growers, particularly those in areas struck by bird flu, have yet to reload their flocks, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

Manolette Gaerlan of the BAI Livestock Group said the prevailing farm-gate price of broiler chicken as of September 11 was at P51 per kilogram, 36 percent higher than the P37.50 per kg recorded a week ago.

Gaerlan said, however, that the recovery of the farm-gate price of chicken is “slower than expected”.

“The demand for broiler chicken has started to pick up, that’s why farm-gate price has started to increase. However, the pace of increase is not that fast. But at least, demand for chicken is slowly coming back,” Gaerlan told the BusinessMirror.

“Poultry growers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the bird-flu issue to make sure that they will not incur losses again. They are awaiting the final results of government procedures and want to find out if the Philippines is already bird flu-free,” she added.

What’s compounding the broiler supply situation, Gaerlan said, is the so-called third quarter syndrome, which pertains to slower chicken production during the July-to-September period due to extreme weather conditions.

“Changing weather conditions during the third quarter make chickens more prone to sickness,” she said.

Figures from the BAI also showed that the price of dressed chicken has also gone up to P130/kg from last week’s average of P110/kg, according to Gaerlan.

As poultry growers remained hesitant to reload their flocks, Gaerlan said the price of day-old chicks went down below its normal average farm-gate price. She said the farm-gate price of day-old chicks as of September 11 settled at P15 per kg, 40 percent lower than the usual P25 to P27 per kilogram.

“The price of day-old chicks is low because there are no takers,” Gerlan said.

Data from the BAI also showed that the price of pork at the retail level remained at P240 per kg at the height of the bird-flu outbreak. Gaerlan said this indicates that the outbreak did not result in a dramatic shift in the meat consumption of Filipinos.

“Perhaps, there was a shift in demand, but the shift was not that high enough to make an impact on pork prices. Besides, pork is expensive compared to chicken,” she said.

“There is about P100 difference in the retail price of chicken and pork, so why will you shift to pork? That P100 difference is onerous for consumers,” Gaerlan added.

Earlier, United Broilers Raiser Association (Ubra) President Elias Jose Inciong made an assurance that the country has ample supply of dressed chicken for the holidays.

Inciong said the farm-gate price of broiler started to recover after the Department of Agriculture (DA) lifted the ban on the shipment of poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country. The farm-gate price of broiler chicken fell to P15 per kg, after the government confirmed that bird flu struck poultry farms in Central Luzon.

“The DA may have announced that the crisis is over, but the impact of the bird flu on our operations is still there. Perhaps, when we get rid of the inventory that was not sold in the past weeks then the flow of trade may normalize,” he said in a news briefing on September 5.

The BAI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, said sentinel birds would only be released in affected farms after the cleaning and disinfected process has been completed and the prescribed rest period has been observed.

BAI Animal Disease and Control Division chief Arlene Vytiaco told the BusinessMirror that the cleaning and disinfection process in all the AI-affected farms are still ongoing.

After the cleaning and disinfection process, poultry growers have to wait 14 days for the final sanitation process. A 21-day rest period would also be observed before sentinel birds are released in farms.

BAI will then monitor the sentinel birds for 35 days and will conduct five laboratory tests on samples to determine whether the birds are free from AI.