In the third part of a series on the impact of rising prices on city-dwellers, K. Lakshmi and Deepa H. Ramakrishnan examine how meat and fish products have become a luxury

Many city-dwellers have cut down on consumption of non-vegetarian dishes over the past few months as the skyrocketing prices have started eating into their budget.

In just a year, the price of meat products has increased by Rs.100 per kg. Mutton is the costliest among the meat products owing to its high demand. G. Bhanu, a resident of K.K. Nagar, said: “I buy meat from the local market. I stock chicken and mutton in the fridge and use it for two or three days and cook simple dishes whenever vegetables cost more. Now, everything from rice, vegetables to non-vegetarian items are expensive.”

While several people have cut down on quantity and reduced consumption of meat to one or two days in a week, some lovers of non-vegetarian food have restricted frequenting their favourite joints where they gorge on non-vegetarian dishes.

Many hoteliers too who, have been unable to cope up with the increasing cost of raw meat, recently hiked the prices of non-vegetarian dishes by at least Rs.50 for every dish.

“Earlier, there was at least the possibility of visiting areas where meat is cheaper. Now, the products seem to cost the same in almost all localities. I have to spend minimum of Rs.500 to eat a sumptuous non-vegetarian meal at home,” said V. Jayaram of Pozhichalur.

On an average, 4,000-6,000 goats are slaughtered daily for meat. Similarly, there is a demand for 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh hens daily. R.Anbuvendan, general secretary of Federation of All Meat Traders Associations said that the city’s demand is met with goats transported from places as far as Maharashtra. “Goat rearing has come down quite a bit in both the State and Andhra Pradesh that were the regular sources for the city’s meat demand. This has led to the sudden increase in price,” he said.

Retail prices of chicken and mutton are on an average higher than the wholesale price by a margin of Rs.50. B. Shabeer Ahmed, president of Chennai Meat Traders Association, said “The transporters have increased their charges following the recent fuel price hike. We pay triple the amount as last year as transportation charges. The growing gap between demand and supply has led to continued increase in price of meat. Poultry farming has also decreased in Namakkal, Palladam areas as feed prices have gone up.”

Beef, once the cheapest of options, has become costly now. The restrictions on transportation have also affected the trade, wholesale traders said.

The escalating feed cost and spread of diseases among livestock in Andhra Pradesh is the main reason for the rise in egg prices. Mohan Reddy, Chennai zone chairman, National Egg Coordination Committee, said on an average, the city consumes about 55-60 lakh eggs a day. “The price of some of the feed such as soya and maize has gone up by 50 – 75 per cent in the last few months. Farmers who suffered huge loss have cut down on production by 10-15 per cent in the State,” he said.

Once winter is over, transportation of eggs to north India, where consumption is high, would be suspended.

This would bring down price marginally in the next few months, he added.

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