CHICKEN DEMAND is expected to remain weak for the next few quarters as households grapple with increased expenses, including the cost of other food items, a poultry industry official said.

“Demand is very poor,” according to Elias Jose M. Inciong, president of the United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA).

Speaking to BusinessWorld by phone, Mr. Inciong added: “I do not think demand will recover given (other expenses like) electricity, transportation, staples like rice, etc. It will certainly have an impact on the demand for meat, chicken, and pork,” he added.

The consumer price index slowed for a sixth straight month to 4.7% in July from 5.4% in June, for a year-to-date average of 6.8%. This exceeds the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas estimate of a 2023 average of 5.4%.

Rice prices rose 4.2% year on year in July, the highest growth rate since 2019.

“Definitely, there’s an improvement (in demand) but I don’t think we are back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of being able to absorb… supply. Farmgate prices remain unstable. One moment it can go very high, another moment it can go very low,” he said.

UBRA estimates that as of Aug. 18 the average farmgate price of regular-sized and prime broiler chicken fell 9.6% month on month to P113 and 13% to P118, respectively.

However, even though demand has a chance of strengthening in the following quarters, he said import volumes will likely remain high.

“Generally, everyone will be conservative because demand is expected to increase during the last quarter of every year and the first quarter of the following year. Importers will also be aggressive (in shipping in products) during this period,” he said.

Mr. Inciong said that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the industry held final consultations before guidelines on the vaccine against avian influenza are issued.

“We just want to be able to use the vaccine… because based on world experience, this (new strain) is different, very persistent,” he said.

The BAI data lists eight barangays across two regions as having active infections as of Aug. 11.

The bureau drafted vaccination guidelines in collaboration with the Philippine College of Poultry Practitioners. 

The initial draft was presented on July 11 in a consultation with representatives from the Food and Drug Administration’s regional field offices, and other concerned agencies. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera