Protesting vendors refused to supply chickens to wet markets for the day in a protest against low prices and over-supply Chicken wholesalers refused to move live poultry from Cheung Sha Wan wholesale market yesterday in a protest against the flood of live chickens from across the border and the collapse in prices to levels they claim are ruining their businesses. The Hong Kong Live Poultry Wholesalers Association put up notices yesterday indicating that the organisation's members would boycott the Cheung Sha Wan market for the day. The notices said that no chicken cages would be moved from the market for distribution to wet market retailers yesterday morning, because of what they see as an unfair selling mechanism for live poultry. Service is expected to resume today after a meeting between the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which manages the trade, and officials from Guangnan Holdings, a locally-listed firm with a monopoly in live poultry imports from Guangdong. Live poultry wholesalers have said that local demand for live chickens averages from 150,000 to 200,000 a day. They say that any excess supply would hit their pockets. Yesterday's protest is the first time since the initial outbreak of avian flu in 1998 that the live poultry trade has publicly complained about over-supply and low prices. In June 2001 and February last year, traders complained that shortages in the supply of live chickens had raised prices to unbearably high levels. They then complained that vendors could not make a profit because they were reluctant to shift the additional cost on to consumers, since that would discourage them from buying. Guangnan supplies about 80 per cent of the live poultry sold in Hong Kong from Guangdong, while the remaining demand is satisfied by local farms. The live poultry industry may be nearing its sunset as the government is considering a complete ban on live chicken sales as part of stringent hygiene measures to prevent the spread of potentially deadly viral infections. Despite the one-day suspension of live chickens yesterday, wet market retailers were not seriously affected since most had enough stock for more than one day. 'Our business is not affected, because we are not so silly as to just buy the number of chickens for one day's sale. We have stock for about two days,' said Tsoi Kin-chuen, 52, an owner of a chicken shop in North Point wet market. 'The supply of chicken will be resumed tomorrow, so there is no problem. Of course, if the supply is suspended for a week, our business will be adversely affected.' However, less people have been coming to the wet market to buy chicken because of the hot weather, Mr Tsoi said. An owner of another chicken shop nearby, So Yiu-hung, also said his business was not really affected because the supply of chickens was only affected for one day. According to Mr So, the price of chicken has not decreased for the past few months even though wholesalers complain the price of live poultry has collapsed. 'The price of the chicken is still high if the quality is good,' he said. 'At present, we generally buy at a price of about $8 per catty from the wholesalers.'