Rise in prices of non-vegetarian items a blow to residents reeling under high cost of greens

As if the consistently high prices of vegetables and fuel were not bad enough, the sudden increase in the prices of chicken and eggs has been a blow to customers.

Many residents, who visited meat shops on Monday, were in for a shock as the price of one kg of chicken had increased by Rs. 60 in the last three days.

See infographic at left.

Some of them said they bought only half of what they usually buy. “Whenever the vegetable prices go up, I manage with chicken or eggs. But, now even these have become costly and I had to cut down on portions of non-vegetarian items,” said N. Srinivasan, a resident of Choolai.

One kg of dressed chicken is now sold at Rs. 200-Rs.220 depending on the locality. The low poultry productivity in Namakkal belt owing to the heat has been cited as the reason for the escalating cost. The soaring cost of poultry feed is another reason, said traders.

“This has affected sales. Many customers have been buying only half the quantity,” said V.Anandan, a retailer in Anna Nagar.

Chicken traders strike

Wholesale chicken traders went on strike during the weekend at being forced to buy chicken at Rs. 120 per kg. Shabeer Ahamed, president of Chennai Meat Traders Association, said: “We get only 5 lakh hens daily, a decrease of over 10 lakh. But, the demand remains the same,” he added.

However, caterers and hoteliers said they have not increased the price of non-vegetarian dishes or compromised on quantity. “Profits have come down by at least 30 per cent as prices of ingredients including chicken, eggs, tomatoes and ginger have gone up,” he added.

However, he has not cut down on the number of dishes, especially in wedding banquets, owing to fear of losing out to competition.

Eggs, which are a staple at many homes, have also become dearer. Mohan Reddy, the Chennai Zonal Chairman of National Egg Coordination Committee, which fixes the rate for eggs, said that summer had taken a toll on production.

“About 5 -7 per cent of farms reduced the number of birds and have not replaced them. But the major contributor to the increase in prices is the cost of feed. Last year, during the same period, feed was just Rs. 12 a kg but now it is Rs. 21/kg.

Drought, drop in maize production

A severe drought and drop in maize crop production has led to an increase in feed prices. However, though egg prices have gone up in the retail market, the farmers are getting only 20 paise per egg. Last month alone, the industry suffered losses amounting to Rs. 10 – 15 crore. Farmers suffered a loss of Re.1 per egg,” he said.

The cost of mutton continues to be static at Rs.440 per kg for the past six months as the meat is being sourced from as far as Maharashtra.

With fish prices being 10 – 15 per cent higher than they were during the 45-day ban on trawling, the hike in prices of eggs and chicken has hit many families badly.

“Fish are being sent to the western coast as the ban is in place there. Also, rains and winds in the sea down south have kept fisherfolk indoors.

Though demand for fish is high, fishing activity is limited to Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts in the State,” said Nanjil Ravi of the Akila Indiya Meenavar Sangam.

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