The bird flu crisis led to a 13 per cent drop in the number of households that purchase fresh whole chicken and chilled whole chicken, a survey has shown. But it appears the decline was largely due to the suspension of fresh poultry shipments from the mainland, imposed from January 31.
An ACNielsen survey of 1,350 households showed that 60 per cent of Hong Kong's households bought fresh and chilled chicken from December 2 to February 4, compared to 69 per cent in the same period a year earlier. The drop of 9 percentage points equates to a 13 per cent decline.
After the fresh-poultry ban was imposed, the 'purchase frequency of fresh and chilled chickens dropped instantly and significantly', ACNielsen reported.
'The slide observed starting early February was more supply-driven than anything else,' said a company spokeswoman.
The survey showed that the number of shopping trips made to purchase fresh poultry actually rose from December 3 to late January, peaking during the Lunar New Year.
From that point on, the number of shopping trips plunged, although the report did not provide exact figures.
Though consumption of frozen chicken appeared to rise slightly, it did not seem enough to offset the decline in the purchase of fresh poultry.
'Not too many consumers shifted to purchase frozen chicken as a substitute,' the report said.
The poll also found that the typical Hong Kong family spent 34 per cent of its food budget on meat, 24 per cent on seafood and fish, 22 per cent on vegetables and 18 per cent on fruit.
Fifty-one per cent of its meat budget went to pork, 25 per cent to chicken and 10 per cent to beef.
Spending on groceries dropped from $7,760 in 2001 to $7,138 in 2003, with the decline attributed to cheaper fresh food prices.