Wholesale prices have crashed 60% for chicken and 27% for eggs as companies and suppliers grapple with a reduction in demand.
Meat delivery company Licious is offering discounts of 25-35% on chicken products and FreshToHome is offering 25% to 30% discounts.
An official of New Delhi-based Green Chick Chop, which has 75 stores in the national capital, said it cut retail prices by 15% to Rs 220 a kg as sales dropped.
“Chicken sales have dropped by 60% to 80%, with consumers taking precautions. We too have stopped our purchases from Punjab and Haryana, as per the state government notification. However, demand for mutton and fish has increased 60%,” said Ravinder Singh, owner of Green Chick Chop, which sold almost 3 tonnes of chicken daily in New Delhi before the bird flu panic.
Kunaal Kumar, managing director at Modern Bazaar, which has 12 stores in the Delhi region and sells through online platforms, said there was a drastic fall in sales in the past week.
“Over 95% of the daily 5 tonne chicken sales has been wiped out, with customers staying away from purchases since the outbreak. We have stopped making future purchases for now,” he said.
Only customers who are allergic to mutton and seafood are making purchases, said Kumar, adding that they were reassuring consumers about the quality of chicken.
“Thankfully, it’s winter and the supply of mutton and fish is good, so consumers have moved to that category and we have seen a 100% increase in sales in the past few days,” Kumar said.
“Our suppliers have reported that chicken prices have dropped sharply over the past three days, with weakening demand across many cities. We too have reduced sourcing fresh chicken, with the drop in demand,” said a senior executive at a leading global restaurant chain, requesting not to be identified.
According to industry estimates, organised branded stores account for 10% of the $24 billion poultry market.
A spokesperson for Licious said: “We have not seen any negative impact on chicken sales on account of the bird flu because consumers prefer established brands like ours in times like these. As far as discounts are concerned, we do run flash discounting from time to time.”
Egg prices have fallen as retailers cut their margins to check the drop in sales.
Tarun Gupta, cofounder of Henfruit, which sells 150,000-180,000 eggs a day across modern retail and online chains, said demand came down to 80% four to five days ago and after various campaigns on safety of the products, there has been some recovery.
“The retailers have been afraid of stocking inventories with the spread of bird flu. However, we are trying to reach out to consumers and talk about the safety of eggs. With increase in supply and drop in demand, the prices will correct by 5% to 10%,” he said.
In the Delhi wholesale market, chicken was being sold at Rs 40 a kg, a 60% discount to prices five days ago, while there was a 27.5% fall in egg prices to Rs 4.35 an egg, said Harish Juneja, chairman for the Delhi zone of the National Egg Coordination Committee, the nodal agency of all farmers in the broiler and layer industries.
“Wholesale egg prices will come down to Rs 2.50 to Rs 3 an egg and chicken can come down to Rs 30 a kg. With the Ghazipur mandi closed, farmers and traders were directly bringing supplies to retailers,” Juneja said.
Sales of chicken and eggs have come down by 40% over the past few days and so have prices, which will force some small poultry farmers to stop operations if the situation worsens, said Ramesh Chander Khatri, president of the Poultry Federation of India.
“This will impact supplies and prices in the next three to four months… Currently, the chicken and egg industry across India is losing Rs 40-45 crore business per day since the bird flu cases started,” he said.