Chicken importer warns wholesalers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 March, 1998, 12:00am

Major chicken importer Guangnan Hong may bypass wholesalers and distribute birds directly to retailers unless wholesalers stop over-charging, it says.

The company is also discussing with mainland authorities whether unscrupulous wholesalers should have their quotas suspended.

The warning came after the Consumer Council moved to probe monopoly claims which have been directed at Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Poultry Market.

The importer said it was aware most of the market's 70 wholesalers were fixing wholesale prices at up to $22 per catty - double the price before the chicken ban.

Director and deputy general manager Cen Tingbiao said the firm had warned three wholesale groups.

'We are aware that some wholesalers are coining money. We are discussing the matter with mainland authorities to see if we can cut or even cancel the quota allocated to them,' Mr Cen said.

'We may also consider distributing the chickens directly to retailers.' Poultry workers claim wholesalers have earned $2 million a day since the import ban was lifted last month.

Mr Cen said a reasonable price would be between $12 and $14 per catty.

'It's reasonable for them to mark up $2 to $3 per catty if [they are] including labour and transport costs. The existing price level has gone far beyond reality,' he said.

But Hong Kong Poultry Vendors Association chairman Tam Shun-wo said the proposal to distribute directly was impractical.

'Most vendors are selling dozens or a few hundred a day. We are too small to store a whole truck or thousands of chickens in our stalls,' Mr Tam said.

'The problem stems from insufficient chicken supply. No one [would be able to] control the quota and price if all the retailers were able to obtain enough chickens,' he said.