🐓Poultry & Covid-19: How fake news can kill an industry

Covid-19 has no fathomable link with Chickens, yet the industry is likely to post cumulative losses of Rs 22,500 crores due to fake propaganda on social media

India is one of the largest producers of eggs and broiler meat in the world. Indian poultry market, consisting of broilers and eggs was worth INR 2,049 Billion in 2019. At a per capita meat consumption of 3.4 kg p.a., the total broiler meat market size was over Rs. 85,000 crores in terms of the retail price. The domestic table egg production for CY2019 was estimated at 109 billion eggs translating to a per capita egg consumption of 80 eggs p.a. and market size of over Rs. 45,000 crores.

The poultry industry in India has undergone a significant shift on structure and operation during the last two decades transforming from a mere backyard activity into a primary sector with the presence of a large number of integrated players. It was expected to grow year on year before the recent happening of Covid-19 has drastically affected the industry.

Technically and biologically, there is no link between the poultry industry and the Covid-19. However, India’s previous experiences with bird-related diseases such as bird-flu have sparked a plethora of fake news. Rumours circulated in social media, linking poultry birds as possible vectors of the virus, lead to a drastic drop in the demand drop. The industry incurred significant net losses due to sharp decline in demand, realization and profitability.

Poultry meat sales crashed by 80% following false claims that chickens are carriers of the coronavirus. India’s poultry industry has lost 13 billion rupees ($182 million) in three weeks after speculation on social media that chickens are a cause of the spread of coronavirus.

As per ICRA Research, as of date, the liquidity condition of industry participants continues to remain stretched, especially of smaller integrators and contract farmers, with few entities witnessing / likely to see the closure of the business.

Regarding the long-term outlook, the healthy industry growth over the last decade makes India one of the fastest-growing poultry markets, with strong growth potential on the back of favourable socio-economic factors. However, recent disruptions have put a temporary halt on demand.

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