The Philippines’ first-ever bird flu outbreak triggered a panic reaction among consumers who avoided buying fresh chicken in public markets out of fear they may be contaminated with the potentially fatal disease.
The low-end of chicken prices in Metro Manila's public markets fell by almost half two weeks after the government announced the outbreak despite assurances by public health professionals that the virus is not transmitted by eating cooked chicken.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the low end of fully-dressed chicken prices dropped by 41 percent to Php65 per kilo on August 22, 2017 from Php110 on August 10, the day before the government acknowledged the detection of the disease in some poultry farms in Pampanga province. The high end of the chicken prices also fell by a tenth from Php150 to Php135 per kilo during the same period.
Before news about the avian influenza broke on August 11, the lowest cost of a whole chicken in Metro Manila had been stable at Php110 per kilo while the highest price reached Php150. The drop in prices started between August 12 and August 15, a few days after the outbreak in Pampanga was confirmed by Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
The low end of chicken prices initially dropped by five percent to Php105 per kilo during this period, despite reassurance from the Department of Health that poultry products are safe to eat. (See infographic) Two days after, the low end of chicken prices fell by another 10 percent to Php95 per kilo. The high end of chicken prices also fell from Php150 to Php145 per kilo.
When the DA confirmed the virus had spread to two towns in Nueva Ecija on August 18, the lowest retail cost declined again by 16 percent, bringing the lowest price of a whole chicken at Php80 per kilo. The high point dropped to Php140 per kilo. The lifting of the temporary ban on the movement of fowls was also delayed at this point.
By August 22, the DA said all affected towns in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija had already been contained. The DA lifted the ban on poultry shipments from Luzon, but the prices already fell to its lowest at Php65 per kilo. The highest chicken prices remained at P140 per kilo.
On August 25, DA said that Australian Animal Health Laboratory has confirmed that the strain of the avian influenza in the country is H5N6, which is transmittable to humans but has very low mortality rate. The prices slowly recovered during this period by eight percent, with the cost of a whole chicken recorded at Php70 per kilo by August 29. The high end of chicken prices, however, remained Php140 per kilo.
The prices published by the PSA are only collected and released three times a week. Retail prices were gathered from Pasay Public Market, Quinta Market, Malabon Market, Sangandaan Market, Blumentritt Market, Susano Novaliches Market, Farmers Market, Pasig Mega Market, Pamilihang Lungsod ng Muntinlupa, Marikina Market and Guadalupe Market.
Pauline Macaraeg is Entrepreneur PH's data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg