A recent hike by 40 percent, in poultry prices, has ruffled many housewives and those engaged in the food business.
According to statistics, the consumption of meat in 2012 among people in Saudi Arabia is 1422 metric tons, whilst demand for chicken is on the rise annually. In 2011, the domestic consumption of poultry was 1368 metric tons and increased by a rate of 3.95%.
Marwa Abdelnadi, a Palestinian who has a family of four, and normally buys at least five to six kilos of chicken a month, now intends to make ends meet with three kilos of chicken and resort to fish instead, after the price of chicken increased in the retail market.
“We are left with fewer options after the increase in poultry prices,” says Abdelnadi. “My kids always prefer chicken over meat or eggs.”
Abdelnadi said, with the rise in the price of chicken, and the already high price of meat, it has become reasonable and less expensive to eat outside, rather than cook at home.
A kilo of chicken is now SAR 14.95, while it used to be SAR12, and 900g of chicken is up by SAR 2.94, costing customers SAR 13.95.
According to Dr. Fahad Balghunaim, Minister of Agriculture, the increase in the price of chicken is due to a shortfall in production. He further added that the increase in poultry prices in the Kingdom is associated with the increase in the price of chicken feed ingredients, such as wheat and millet. Millet accounts for 65 percent of the feed.
Restaurants owners too, are on the verge of increasing prices, but are afraid of losing customers.
“I believe eating outside has become relatively cheaper than buying chicken and cooking at home, due to the skyrocketing prices of chicken,” says Varun Thambilal, an Indian expatriate living with his wife.
Varun further elaborated, that a suitable example would be Al- Baik. “Al-Baik is worth its price because one box can feed two people,” said Varun.
Umm Khalid, a Pakistani housewife and mother of three, said that she now replaces most of her family’s chicken meals with fish or just vegetables sometimes.
Recently many Saudi consumers started a social media campaign, entitled “Let It Rot” to boycott chicken, following the sudden hike in poultry prices in the Kingdom. The Twitter campaign reported punishing the traders for the unfair increase in the price of chicken.
“I buy a box of Al-Baik with some rice for lunch and even have some leftover for dinner,” says Ben Agro, a Filipino bachelor living in the Kingdom. “I think for bachelors like me, opting for dining out is much cheaper than buying chicken and cooking at home.”
According to a report in Al-Eqtisadiah, Khaled Al-Fehaid, Assistant Undersecretary for Livestock Resources at the Ministry, stated clearly that poultry retailers or importers were not justified in increasing the prices of their products.
“The case of poultry is the same as any other product,” says Al-Fehaid, “If there is no increase in the cost of production, producers have no right to increase the price.”
“Poultry pricing depends mainly on the price of chicken feed, which accounts for 60 percent of its production cost. Price of chicken feed has gone up in the international market, due to climatic upheavals in the United States, South America and the Black Sea area,” the official added.