Chicken meat prices have gone very high rendering the commodity beyond the reach of poor consumers, according to a report from Karachi, Pakistan. Lack of incentives, rupee depreciation and high electricity costs have been blamed for the price hike.

Chicken meat price, which had averaged Rs 100 per kilogram (US$1.25) during the past eight months in Lahore, shot up to Rs 195 per kilogram (US$2.43) in Multan. In Karachi, the price has risen to above Rs 220 per kg (US$2.75) and in Lahore at Rs 180 (US$2.25). Market analysts claim these are realistic prices of poultry as cost of production has increased sharply during the past one year.

Pakistan Poultry Association former chairman Tahir Ali Zaidi said the price of poultry feed had increased by about 90% during the period. A poultry feed bag, which was available at Rs 650 (US$8.11) a year ago, is currently being sold at Rs 1,200 (US$14.97). He said that since the feed accounted for 70% of poultry production cost, the abnormal increase in feed prices had pushed the cost up.

He gave two reasons for the increase in feed prices. First, the government allowed export of maize, which is an important ingredient of poultry feed, causing a steep rise in its prices. The second reason is high prices of soybean meal, another important ingredient in poultry feed, which was imported from foreign countries.

Pakistan Poultry Association Chairman Khaliq Arshad said that poultry farmers had been selling their produce below cost for over a year, and 40 percent of the farms which could not afford to suffer more losses were forced to close down