Chicken Supply Crunch Worsens

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KUALA LUMPUR – The dwindling chicken supply in the country since Hari Raya Aidilfitri has set off a chain reaction affecting eateries, catering businesses and sellers.

The shortage of processed chickens and underweight birds appeared to be worsening, with slaughterhouses closing for two to three days while waiting for their stock to be replenished.

Compounding the problem were a few farms that resorted to rationing supplies to sellers for the past few days.

Many sellers had seen their orders reduced by 50 percent, which left many consumers unable to buy the chicken they needed. 

Processed chicken wholeseller Muhammad Zaili Suwarli, who used to take between 60 and 80 baskets of birds daily, now only got between 25 and 30 baskets.

“The reduction in the number of baskets was imposed by the suppliers because they could not fulfil the chicken demand as a result of the shortage.

“Poultry suppliers are also stuck because farms are not able to produce chickens with the designated weight of above 1.6kg like they did before Hari Raya.”

Zaili said there were two types of chicken — one known as ayam dara and the other was ayam besar.

“There is no shortage of ayam dara, which is smaller and weighs below 1.5kg each. The shortage involves ayam besar, which weighs above 1.6kg each.

“Although this is not the first time we have experienced rationing of processed chicken, this is the worst because the farm that supplies me has stopped operating. This has never happened before,” he said at his stall in Bandar Baru Sentul here yesterday.

Zaili, who inherited the chicken business from his late father, said this was the first time he faced severe rationing.

The farm that supplied him had notified him of a three-day halt in operations. He had not gotten his supply since Saturday.

He said the sudden shortage had caused him to suffer losses of between RM600 and RM1,000 per day since the middle of Ramadan.

A visit to Pasar Datuk Keramat in Kampung Datuk Keramat here yesterday found that poultry traders could only afford to supply chicken to their regular customers, such as restaurant owners and eateries.

A trader and supplier of fresh poultry, who wanted to be known as Anas, 32, said chickens were ordered from suppliers in large quantities, but yesterday he received only a small quantity.

“Previously, I ordered between 2,000 and 3,000 birds daily, but today (yesterday), I only received 900. We supply fresh poultry to all chicken traders in Pasar Datuk Keramat and the stock we have is not enough.

“The price of chicken from the farm is RM8.10 and it is sold for between RM8.90 and RM9, with an additional 80 cents for cutting and plucking off the feathers.”

Anas said he received many complaints from consumers and restaurant owners.

“If a chicken costs RM20 and is cut into 12 pieces, how much do they want to charge per piece at their restaurant?

“People are in a tough situation because if they want to sell at an expensive price, they will feel terrible for the buyer. But if they sell cheap, it is quite difficult to generate a profit,” he said, adding that the situation was critical.

Customer Harun Mohd Ishak, 74, claimed that he rushed to Pasar Datuk Keramat from Hulu Kelang when he heard that Selangor might run out of chickens.

“When I came this morning (yesterday), there was still some fresh chickens available, and despite that it cost RM59 for three, I still needed to purchase them for our daily meals.

“The government has fixed the price at RM8.90 per kg, but the price that traders are getting is RM9 or more per kg, so how do they intend to sell at RM8.90?”

Harun urged the government to take action to overcome the issue.

“If the imported raw materials to produce chicken feed are among the factors contributing to the shortage, why can’t we make our own chicken feed, such as corn, oil palm waste or rice husks from factories?”

A food stall operator who wanted to be known as Rini, 47, said she was also affected by the situation.

“On Thursday last week, I was unable to open my food stall due to a shortage of chicken.

“I had to buy frozen imported meat in 900 gram packages for RM15, which was relatively cheaper to make as a dish,” she said.