PETALING JAYA, May 23 — Poultry traders and customers fear that chicken prices will continue to rise should the poultry companies that suspended operations this weekend continue their protest.
According to traders, they have been forced to increase their selling price as they had to pay for a higher cost price at the poultry farms.
A trader who wanted to only be known as Bibi said prices may continue to increase as there is close to zero supply currently for market traders.
“This is actually not new, not something that happened just this week. Since March, there has been a problem with chicken supply; except this month, it has hit us the worst.
“We are still unsure of what is going to happen or what will happen to the chicken supply in Selangor, but right now, there is no chicken supply for me,” she told Malay Mail when met at the Jalan Othman wet market in Petaling Jaya.
She, however, said the boycott had little effect, as there was already a shortage in chicken supply from the farmers.
“What is there to boycott when chicken supply at the farm is already insufficient?” Bibi added.
Last week, news reports indicated that the “boycott” was to protest the government’s delay in providing a subsidy of 60 sen per kilogramme to poultry farmers.
Traders and customers have since expressed their fear of no chicken supply and hiked prices of any available chicken supplies.
“Even before this boycott was initiated, my supplies were reduced, but previously, it was not so bad — maybe in 20 baskets, they cut three — but in the last month, they have reduced half of my usual intake.
“Due to that, I can’t cater to my regular walk-in customers. I have only been able to cater to pre-orders at the moment,” she said.
Currently, Bibi said the price she was charging was not the subsidised price, and during a spot check by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs (KPDNHEP) at the market yesterday, she had to explain herself.
“They were here to inspect prices, but I managed to explain why I was charging higher. They accepted my reason, but I do hope this will be resolved soon,” she said.
Another trader known as Kalyani said she had to source for chicken from suppliers who were based in Kuala Lumpur, and due to that, she had to charge higher prices.
“We had to do this as our customers are still asking for chicken. We can’t just shut the stall. Where will they look for their supplies?
“Although I have to charge much more, my customers said they are willing to pay for it,” she said when met at her stall in the same market.
Another trader, Wan Rohaini who also has to charge more, said she was frustrated at the situation, indicating that it is confusing as to whether she could continue with her business.
Having said that, Wan Rohaini said she has decided to shut the stall today as she had no way to source for chicken supplies.
“We were only told that the farms will be shut, but they did not tell us why. Today (May 22) will be my last day of operation after I deliver to customers who made pre-orders.
“Tomorrow (May 23) the stall will be shut. There is no chicken to sell,” she said.
For R. Krishnasamy, a trader in Pasar Baru Semenyih, said he too had to charge more as prices increased at the farms.
However, due to this issue, he had decided to shut his business as well at the market.
“I fear that the boycott will continue if the issue is not resolved by the government,” he said, also indicating confusion on the ground, as businesses are unsure of what was the situation in days to come.
Most affordable dish
As for consumer Nor Azman Ghani, he said chicken was the most affordable meat dish in a household, that is why he preferred it over beef, mutton or fish.
“Fish is getting more and more expensive too, and for chicken, the supply range and types of chicken is wide as compared to other meat types.
“But if this continues, I think the prices will continue to increase,” he said.
Caterer and business owner Suresh Murethi said in his 30 years in the industry, this was the worst supply shortage issue he had ever experienced.
“I have no choice, I need to fulfill orders that I have taken and my customers have paid for their orders beforehand.
“My biggest worry is I can’t find chicken supplies for the paid customers, that is my worst nightmare,” he said, indicating that he may not be able to take on bigger catering gigs due to this.
Facing a similar situation, Jegathesan said he too had to inform his customers that he was not able to deliver orders that were reserved before the boycott was initiated.
“I am a supplier of chicken to restaurants, and there is really no chicken since yesterday, I even have to come here to buy consumption for my own household,” he said when met at the market.
He added that this was not a new problem, and it has affected his cost price, since he had to source for supplies from various places.
“It’s not the same when you have to take from your non-regular places, you have to pay more and that would affect the business,” he said.
Utusan Malaysia last week shed light on the cartel that controls the market price of chicken in the country, giving rise to the volatility in prices in recent times.
It said almost the entire chain of the livestock industry is controlled by several large cartels that use associations as a method of disguising their actions.
The sources added that the closure of the poultry farms will result in the market no longer being able to meet consumer demand, with the chain likely to be completely severed when this happens.
The source also blamed KPDNHEP for not solving the issue of farmers who have been burdened with the rising cost of operations due to the high prices of wheat and chicken feed.