By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THE farmgate price of chicken is expected to remain soft in the coming months despite more freedom of movement and business operations promised by the new quarantine scheme, the United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) said. 

UBRA President Elias Jose M. Inciong said in a mobile phone interview that prices will remain soft because the underlying demand remains weak due to the pandemic. Only an “unexpected event in the near future” could cause prices to rise, he added.

UBRA estimates that as of Sept. 17, the average farmgate price of an off-sized broiler chicken fell 10.4% week on week to P73 per kilogram (/kg), while the average farmgate prices of regular-sized and prime broilers fell 10.7% and 12.6% to P75/kg and P73.63/kg, respectively.

Mr. Inciong said the production cost for broiler chicken ranges from P83 to P90/kg.

He said the increase in overseas Filipino worker (OFW) remittances and the upcoming start of the campaign for the 2022 elections may help address soft prices.

“The industry is hoping that people can set aside more funds for food as the economy opens up (so) we start to recover in the coming months. Hopefully the 13th month pay, OFW remittances, and the election spending will have some sort of positive impact. But we do not know given the deep wounds inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Inciong said.  

“Everyone is hoping for a recovery. But you have to be realistic,” he added.

Between Sept. 16 and 30, Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 4, with so-called granular lockdowns in selected districts rather than a uniform setting for the entire territory covered by the quarantine level.

Under Alert Level 4, outdoor or al fresco dine-in services in restaurants are permitted to operate at 30% capacity regardless of vaccination status, while indoor dine-in services are allowed only for fully vaccinated individuals.

The new system has five alert levels with varying guidelines on freedom of movement and business operations.

According to Mr. Inciong, demand typically picks up by October in a non-pandemic year.

“Normally, a presidential campaign has an impact in the spending. But this may be undermined by COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Inciong added.

The prevailing price of a kilogram of whole chicken in Metro Manila markets was P140/kg, according to the Sept. 17 price monitoring report of the Department of Agriculture.