PETALING JAYA - Poultry prices are on the rise as Hari Raya nears with some dealers blaming lower supply and others at higher chicken feed cost.
Major poultry dealers in Perak and Johor said the price of dressed chicken was set to increase further, causing concern to consumers.
Perak poultry association chairman Datuk Ding Thong Chow said there had been insufficient supply even before Ramadan began.
He said demand for the popular meat remained high during Ramadan.
Ding said insufficient supply was also due to the stunted growth of chicken.
"Usually after 38 days, a chicken weighs about 2.5kg and is ready for slaughter but now it only weighs about 2kg at that stage. It's taking longer for chickens to grow.
"We think this is due to the poor quality of dried maize imported from Argentina. There is a workers' strike so, shipments have been delayed," he said yesterday.
He said the price of chicken had increased to RM5 (S$1.78) a kilo from RM4.80, with Perak supplying 20 per cent of the national poultry production.
In Johor, poultry dealers said the higher price of chicken feed was due to the strengthening US dollar.
Dealers in the state said they had no choice but to pass on the cost to consumers, pointing out that breeders were setting higher ex-farm chicken prices.
Pasar Kampung Melayu trader Faaiz A. Rahman, 29, said the price of chicken at RM6.40 a kilo this week would go up to RM7.50 before the Government price control mechanism sets in for Hari Raya.
A trader at the Larkin wet market, who wanted to be known only as Teo, said the chicken feed costs had a negative impact on prices.
"We do not set these rates but we have to increase prices in order to make a minimal profit," he added.
A large Indian Muslim restaurant chain owner in Petaling Jaya said chicken prices had been high over the past two months.
"We get a daily SMS from the supplier telling us what the price is. Some days, it goes up by 60sen and 70sen. If it drops, it's only by 10sen and 20sen.
"Suppliers are saying there is not enough stock," he said.
Federation of Livestock Farmers' Associations of Malaysia president Jeffrey Ng, however, said there was amply supply of chicken.
"As of now, there should not be any problem in supply for Hari Raya," he said.
Ng said the price of chicken feed was not the highest over the past two years.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek warned poultry traders not to arbitrarily increase prices.
"Livestock farmers have assured us that there will be ample supply, so traders cannot give excuses," he said.