SCMP Friday, May 18, 2001

Imports from mainland to be cut by two-thirds


Imports of live chickens from the mainland will be cut by two-thirds today, two days after fears of bird flu infection led to a cull.
Only 30,000 will be imported today as sales have fallen significantly. Chicken importer Guangnan Hong yesterday cut its imports to just over 97,000 from more than 109,000 on Wednesday.
But nearly 20,000 chickens were left unsold yesterday morning, compared with fewer than 6,000 on Wednesday. The wholesale price also dropped to $5 from $13 a catty.
Retail groups, including the Hong Kong Livestock Industry Association, said yesterday that the authorities should kill all chickens in the territory now and pay between $28 and $50 for each bird in compensation.
Live chicken sales in wet markets were severely affected.
In Po On Road Market in Shamshuipo the poultry section fared badly in comparison with other sections, which were crowded with shoppers.
A stall worker said business had dropped by 90 per cent since the outbreak.
Housewife Yuen Woon-yin, 67, bought a chicken for $45.
"There is nothing to be scared about. I'm making a soup with it for when my children come home for dinner."
But another housewife who did not give her name said she would stop eating chicken until the Government gave the all-clear.
Dora Tam bought six live chickens for $250 on Wednesday morning. "Can I get a refund or shall I give the six chickens to the Government?" she asked.
Customers at a restaurant in Quarry Bay, renowned for its fresh chicken menu, also refrained from ordering chicken dishes.
"Some regulars order chicken dishes every day, but not today," a spokesman said.
"Hong Kong people are sensitive to such things. By lunchtime today we had only sold three chickens instead of the 10 or so we normally sell."