As the first consignment of imported chicken and eggs hit the market this week, the local poultry association reacted strongly, claiming that imports were taking place despite a surplus of stocks.
The association warned of serious implications to local producers, as the government said that imports would continue for at least two more months.
Both the government and the All Island Poultry Association state that the prices of chicken and eggs will be reduced, but cite different statistics regarding the demand and supply of chicken and eggs in the country.
Chairman- All Island Poultry Association, Dr D.P. Wanasinghe told the Sunday Times that, according to their estimates, there had been no shortage.
He stated that because the government imported chicken and eggs, the small farmers would be less willing to sell their stocks.
Dr Wanasinghe stated that, while the imported chicken and eggs will reduce their prices, it will create a glut in the market. “The imported items will have a bearing on the rest of the industry in a negative way”, he said.
However, sources within the trade said that one of the reasons for the shortage was that some of the major producers were selling the chicken in parts, so that they could get a bigger profit than selling it whole.
“Selling the parts is more profitable than selling the whole chicken. This system is resorted to increase profit margins,” the source said.
Both, Secretary- Trade & Commerce Ministry and Chairman- CWE, defended the importation, saying it would balance the market and help reduce prices.
Chairman- CWE, Eraj Fernando stated that the imported eggs would be sold at Rs 11 per egg.
He stated that the purpose of the imports is to balance the market, not to destroy it. Therefore, the government would not flood the market with the imported items. Trade Secretary Sunil Sirisena said that the imported chicken would be sold at Rs 350 per kg.
He also emphasised that total consumption of chicken is 9,000-11,000 metric tonnes, while production is at 8,250 metric tonnes.
Hence, Mr. Sirisena defended the Government’s import of chicken and eggs, since demand far exceeded supply.
He affirmed the government would continue to import the items until prices stabilized, which he expects would be achieved in another 2-3 months,
Mr. Sirisena confirmed that the imported items would be available islandwide at all 350 Laksathosas.
Small-time farmers would be permitted to buy a minimum of two cartons from the Laksathosas.
Private wholesalers can also buy directly from the government. He also explained that the imports could not be brought in time for Christmas because there was a delay in sending a certificate from Sri Lanka accepting the quality of chicken from India.