FOOD

Live mainland chickens to hit local markets by Saturday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 3:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 3:55am

Live chickens from the mainland should be back on sale tomorrow as poultry imports resumed after nearly eight months yesterday - in time for Monday's Mid-Autumn Festival feasts.

About 500 pigeons, the first batch of birds allowed in after they tested free of bird flu viruses, arrived yesterday. Live chickens start arriving today and traders expect retail prices to drop as much as a third as a result.

The birds, which underwent a five-day quarantine before leaving the mainland farms, will be subject to further tests at the Man Kam To border crossing before being sold. Sales had been suspended since February as arrangements were put in place to keep local and mainland birds apart after a bird-flu scare prompted a cull of 20,000 birds in January.

"I believe live chickens from the mainland can hit the market by Saturday morning at the soonest," Poultry Wholesalers Association chairman Tsui Ming-tuen, said yesterday.

Retail prices for locally raised live chicken have risen from about HK$40 per catty (600 grams) in February to about HK$60 now. Tsui said he believed the price would drop at least 30 per cent once the mainland chickens went on sale. The mainland had supplied 7,000 birds per day before the ban, against 12,000 reared locally.

The Food and Health Bureau announced the lifting of the ban on Wednesday night.

"Hong Kong and the mainland held discussions on the inspection and quarantine measures for live poultry. … Both sides have reached consensus that the current inspection and quarantine arrangements as well as the various [disease] control measures will continue," a bureau spokesman said.

The spokesman said live birds coming to Hong Kong would be subjected to quarantine and tests before leaving the mainland farms.

They would be tested again at Man Kam To before being transferred to the Cheung Sha Wan wholesale market, from where wholesalers disperse them to different retail markets.