PHUKET CITY: With the appearance of avian ‘flu in Thailand, many consumers have made a switch to fish, seafood and the other “white” meat – pork. Fish, and prawns in particular, have become shoppers’ favorites. Before bird ‘flu, prawn prices were depressed because of caps on imports imposed by the US and Europe, resulting in huge surpluses. For prawn farmers at least, the epidemic cloud has a silver lining; prawn prices have doubled, from as little as 90 baht a kilo at the beginning of January to 170 or 180 baht today. Pork sirloin, which was selling in markets for 90 baht a kilo in December, is now priced at 120 baht, a 33% increase, and shoulder of pork has increased from 85 baht to 95 baht a kilo, a rise of just under 12%. As a result of the rises in seafood and pork prices, some restaurants have also raised menu prices, but the Chief of the Phuket Provincial Commercial Office, Panjit Pissawong, said that he does not believe pork prices will rise further. “The Phuket Provincial Livestock Office reports that the price of pork will not exceed 120 baht a kilo, but we will continue to monitor market prices on a weekly basis,” he said. Chicken prices, meanwhile, remain in the doldrums. Despite a concerted government campaign – which has seen ministers and local government officials swallow more chicken in a matter of weeks than they would normally eat in a year – the price of chicken has continued to fall, from around 45 baht a kilo in January to 40 baht a kilo now. There was a brief spike in the price at Chinese New Year, when chicken meat rose to 48 baht, a rise attributed by K. Panjit to increased demand for “chicken for traditional purposes during the New Year”. Vegetable prices, he noted, remain unaffected. “These are dependent upon the weather and the season, and are not usually subject to price increases because of a meat disease,” he explained.
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