After five human deaths and 20 million culled birds, Egyptians are returning to chicken as their main source of animal protein, creating a supply crunch as slaughter houses struggle to meet the resurgent demand.
Egyptians turned away from poultry when the deadly bird flu virus hit the country in February, but the panic which drove thousands of people to jam phone lines with reports of the disease has since subsided, industry experts said.
Poultry once accounted for about half of all animal protein consumed in Egypt, the world’s most populous Arab state, compared to about 26% globally, some analysts said.
Red meat costs about 40 Egyptian pounds ($7) a kilogram, fish and white cheese are half that, but chicken still lags behind at between 12 and 15 pounds ($2-$2.60), making it popular in a country where GDP per capita is about $4,400 a year.
The government has encouraged people to switch to frozen chicken as an option safer than unregulated domestic rearing.
But slaughter houses providing chilled and frozen chicken can only supply a fraction of the 3 million chickens Egyptians used to consume on average each day.