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Indians Miss out on Benefits of Processed Poultry

by 5m Editor
31 March 2010, at 10:30a.m.

INDIA - The poultry meat industry suffered a set-back as the result of bird flu in 2008 and 2009. Processed products still only account for about 10 per cent of the market, and the public generally are not well-versed on food safety issues about chicken.

The lost interest of the farmers in the poultry sector has still not revived after the fall-out due to the bird flu influenza attack which was first noticed in Nandurber district in 2008, according to Food and Beverage News of India. The years 2008 and 2009 witnessed a major set-back for the chicken industry which was on the growth graph in the past 10 to 15 years. The hatchery units were particularly hit hard during the said period, resulting in low business for the poultry industry. Not only have the farmers lost interest in business but also consumers have been misled due to incorrect information disseminated by the media on avian influenza, says Dr S.K. Halder, senior marketing officer, in-charge of western region (MFPO), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

Dr Halder said that the demand for frozen chicken in the country was less than 0.5 per cent and the demand for chilled chicken was less than five per cent. The figure indicates that an average five per cent consumers are aware of the advantages of poultry processed in factories. The demand of frozen chicken is seen only in areas where modes of transport are not easily available like the high altitude regions. There is a tremendous potential for the growth of the chicken industry, provided consumer is educated and massive awareness programmes initiated. In India, the socio-economic conditions and the political compulsions of the state and local bodies, make roadside slaughter of bird unavoidable. Unless and until it is stopped by the local bodies which implement the provisions of food safety, the scope for growth will be limited.

In the western region comprising Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa there are just two world class chicken processing plants, namely Godrej Tyson and Venky's India Ltd with facilities matching the international standards. These are engaged in the processing of chilled/frozen/value added chicken products. In addition there are seven semi-automatic chicken processing plants in the western region, namely, Baramati Agro Ltd, Hybro Foods Pvt. Ltd, Prabhat Poultry Pvt. Ltd, Zorabian Chicks Pvt. Ltd, Ave Marium (Royal Foods), Goa, Jamesmith Foods Pvt. Ltd and Supreme Agro Farms. These plants produce chilled chicken available in the market.

It is important to educate consumers about the possible health hazards of chicken bought from the road-side, according to Food and Beverage News. The microbial contamination in these is high. Besides incidence of retention of blood in the body, which produces microbial contaminants, is also more. No ante-mortem or post-mortem examination is done unlike the ones processed in the factory under strict sanitary norms. The keeping quality of roadside chicken is also bad leading to ill-effects on the health of consumers and these chicken also get spoilt faster. If there is continuous demand for chicken then the organised poultry industry will grow, provided right precautionary measures are taken by the government, concluded Dr Halder.