No shortage of chicken, eggs in Sultanate

Officials of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) through the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA) visited main local poultry suppliers to ensure chicken meat and eggs are available amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to restricted travel measures during COVID-19 affecting the supply of imported food, there have been concerns about the sufficient supply of chicken meat in the country.

Based on data collected from local producers, the production of chicken meat and eggs are not affected by the travel restrictions.

The demand for chicken meat has fallen from 1,426,368 chickens in January to 1,424,122 chickens in February and 1,312,644 chickens in March. This is anticipated as restaurants and caterings offered limited services during the pandemic.

Riza Fudhlana Farming owner, Pengiran Haji Haris bin Pengiran Haji Duraman highlighted that his business saw reduced demand from restaurants, caterers and supermarkets as many other local producers are also distributing to them. He added that processing and distribution companies could source chicken meat from local producers.

Golden Chicks Livestock Farm Sdn Bhd owner Ong Chek Thiam said they welcome an increase in demand for chicken meat as COVID-19 has negatively impacted their sales due to lower demand from restaurants and the hospitality industry.

“The demand for dressed chicken and table eggs are slowing down as restaurants are only allowed to offer take-away service, which reduces our customers.”

Local producers have reassured the public that they will be able to increase production to secure supply in the country especially during Ramadhan and the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Hence, in the current situation, local producers are producing less chicken than their normal production level.

The demand for cut pieces has risen as these were previously also available through imports. Local producers have reassured the public that they will be able to increase production to secure supply in the country especially during Ramadhan and the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“Currently, our broiler production has reached about 85 per cent of our farm’s maximum capacity. In order to meet the demand by our regular customers, especially the international fast food chains, we plan to increase our production to fully utilise our existing broiler farm capacity. At the same time, our abattoir also has the ability to meet the cutting requirement of any customers including international food chain operators in the country, said QAF Farms General Manager Bohari bin Dasin.

He said the COVID-19 situation does not affect the overall demand for their products as shortfalls in some business sectors such as restaurants and the hospitality industry is being offset by the increase in demand of other sectors, especially in the grocery industry.

Hua Ho Farm owner Lau How Teck said, “During the current situation, the production of chicken meat and eggs remains the same although the demand for both products has increased.”

He urged local producers of chicken meat and eggs to increase their production to meet the increase in demand.

With the supply of local cut pieces and meat for processing, the country has become 100 per cent self-sufficient in the production of chicken meat and eggs which means that all chicken meat and eggs available in the country are produced locally. This is in line with the aspiration of MPRT to increase local production and ensure that food products consumed by the public are safe, of the highest quality and Halal.

Production has steadily increased throughout the years from 15.7 million chickens and 150.8 million eggs in 2017 to 16.3 million chickens and 160 million eggs in 2019. More recently, statistics during the first quarter of 2020 reveal that chicken meat production in the country has substantially increased by 6.5 per cent to 4,163,134 chickens from 3,909,959 chickens in the same quarter last year. It is projected that production could further increase to 20 million chickens annually if there is an increase in demand for local markets and also exports.