Cages empty rapidly as shoppers starved of fresh meat rush stalls

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2008, 12:00am

Customers were in a hurry to get their hands on live chickens as sales resumed. Some vendors sold their stock in under two hours.

'I must get a chicken today. I do not mind if they are old chickens. I can make soup with them,' said Ms Yip, shopping in Kowloon City.

'I am unhappy that I can't get a chicken. I am very disappointed,' said Ms Chow, another shopper.

One woman said she took a day off work just to buy chickens: 'I applied for leave today because I want to buy live chickens. I am worried that I cannot get one after work,' she said.

Business was as good as ever, said chicken-stall operator Chow Hon-ling, who was taking orders for live chicken. 'Some customers told me that they missed live chickens a lot. A regular buyer even made an order for three chickens on Tuesday,' she said.

A fellow trader at the Kowloon City market said he had sold all 30 chickens he ordered before 9.45am. Another who had 100 chickens to sell said no birds were left by 12.30pm.

A vendor at a Tai Po market said: 'Sales were very good today. I wish I had a chicken left for myself.'

Vendors halved their orders from wholesalers for fear they would lose money killing unsold stock in compliance with a new ban on holding chickens at markets after 8pm.

Shoppers were adamant live chicken tasted best. Ms Yip said she had not eaten any chilled chicken in the three weeks since live chickens were last sold, since it was not as tasty as fresh meat.

Ms Chow said: 'I do not want either the central abattoir or chilled chickens.'

Chan Yuk, 80, who was shopping at the Tai Po market, said: 'I am not worried [about bird flu] as it has passed. I've eaten dead chickens in the past and nothing has happened.'

But others were still worried about bird flu despite the ban on stalls stocking chickens overnight.

'I am worried about hygiene at wet markets now,' said Ms Leung, a shopper at the Po On Road Market in Sham Shui Po. 'The daily culling practice does not help much, chickens are dirty themselves. I prefer chilled chicken,' she said.

Ap Lei Chau shopper Lee Kan said: 'I do not mind chicken stalls closing up.' He had stopped buying live chicken for fear of bird flu.