Covid-19 and the consequent lockdowns have pushed India’s poultry sector into losses of around US$ 4 billion between February and April 2020.
The demand for chicken and eggs in India is recovering gradually, however, according to insiders, it may take another 6 months for the industry to get back on its feet.
Mumbai consumes an average of 8.5 million eggs daily, but there is currently a vast shortfall, receiving just 4.5 million. Photo Henk Riswick
Egg demand up but production down
President of the Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association, Vasant Kumar Shette, said that although the market is slowly limping back to normalcy, the sector is operating at 50% capacity, reports the Financial Express. The hike in farmgate prices has increased by 20 to 40% – Rs550 (US$ 7.46) per 100 eggs and Rs90 (US$ 1.22) per bird – due to supply constraints. “For the industry, the focus would be on recovery in 2020-21 and 2021-22,” said Shette, adding that demand has risen but production is still down by nearly 40%.
...at least 30 to 40% of the small players have been wiped out since they did not have enough cash to feed the business.”
Suresh Chitturi, vice-chairman of the All India Poultry Breeders Association: “The industry is on the mend and India presents a humungous opportunity given the fact that both chicken and eggs are cheap sources of protein. Prices have improved but at least 30 to 40% of the small players have been wiped out since they did not have enough cash to feed the business. Feed constitutes 80% of the cost. The industry may recover if prices continue to remain firm until March next year.”
Egg price pushed higher
Meanwhile, Times of India reports that short supply and high demand have pushed up egg prices to Rs80(US$ 1.09) per dozen in Mumbai compared to Rs65(US$ 0.88) in August. Egg rates had reportedly fallen as low as Rs44-48(US$ 0.60-0.65) per dozen in April to May. Raju Shewale of the Mumbai Egg Traders’ Association: “At least 35 to 40% of poultry farmers had to close down business amid the lockdown. Now supply is unable to keep pace with demand.” He added that there is a vast shortfall as Mumbai consumes an average of 8.5 million eggs daily, but is now receiving just 4.5 million.
I expect prices to remain high till December.”
According to Aftab Ahmed Khan, chairman of the association, poultry farmers were unable to rear birds during lockdown, nor were they able to procure feed or sell their products. Farming activity was also disrupted as labourers went home. “I expect prices to remain high till December,” he said. Poultry product prices peak with increased demand during winter and Christmas. So, there could be a second spell of high prices in December and January.