HONG KONG - Sales of local fresh chickens will be suspended from today, Monday, drastically cutting daily supplies, until imports of live poultry from the mainland resume in June.
The Standard reports that more than 50 of 130 chicken stalls are expected to suspend their businesses until the ban is lifted.
Hong Kong and Kowloon Poultry Dealers and Workers Association officer Leung Wai-tong said they are incurring more losses by the continued ban on mainland imports rather than by closing their shops temporarily.
Live poultry imports from Shenzhen farms were suspended in January for 21 days because of the threat of H7N9 bird flu.
The ban was extended until June so that a site to segregate mainland birds from local ones could be ready. This is being done to further minimize the risk of bird flu spreading to local birds.
But Leung said the price of chickens rose to HK$40 per catty yesterday, compared with HK$20 per catty during the Lunar New Year.
This is deterring people from buying fresh chickens, he added.
"Many vendors have sustained losses, some have even had to close their stalls for a few days."
He said the five-month ban on mainland birds has affected their livelihood tremendously.
But the government has done little to mitigate their losses.
Leung said there were about 130 stalls selling local chickens, and so far about 50 vendors will suspend their sales, including transportation workers and retailers.
According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the average supply of live chickens from Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Market this month ranged between 9,500 and 15,000 birds.
The wholesale price jumped from HK$34 per catty on 1 April to HK$39.10 per catty yesterday. It was HK$40 per catty last Sunday.
A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said it would closely monitor the supply of chickens.
It is also willing to provide assistance to different stakeholders in the live poultry industry, including breeders, wholesalers and retailers, and strengthen communication to ensure a sustainable supply of local live chickens.
TheMeatSite News Desk