Central slaughtering won't affect retail chicken prices, minister says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 March, 2009, 12:00am

Retail chicken prices should stay within the range of HK$30 to HK$40 a catty after central slaughtering was introduced, the health minister said yesterday.

York Chow Yat-ngok told legislators that central slaughtering - proposed to take the place of live-chicken sales and reduce the risk of bird flu - was still viable although demand for live chickens had dropped.

Addressing a special Finance Committee meeting, the secretary for food and health estimated that at most 30,000 chickens would be processed each day after the poultry slaughtering centre came into use in 2011-12. This was more than 50 per cent lower than the original planned capacity of 75,000.

Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Warner Cheuk Wing-hing said wet-market vendors now charged customers HK$10 to slaughter a bird and the centre would be able to make HK$200,000 a day if 20,000 chickens were processed.

The government was still considering whether the centre should be run by a private company or by the government, but the option of a privately owned slaughtering centre would adhere more to commercial principles, Dr Chow said.

There are 30 chicken farms in Hong Kong that can supply about 7,000 birds a day. A similar number of live chickens are imported from the mainland. Demand for live chickens dropped following the closure of most live-chicken stalls in wet markets.

About 72 per cent of live-chicken vendors surrendered their licences in return for compensation last year.