Animal feed producers in Bangladesh have experienced a fall in sales in the wake of reduced demand in poultry feed after bird flu took a toll on production in recent months.
According to Ihtesham Shahjahan, general secretary of Feed Industries Association Bangladesh (FIAB), feed sales during January-March 2012 dropped by 30% to 400,000 tonnes from the same period a year ago.
"These are conservative figures. But it would be more," said Shahjahan, also managing director of Quality Feeds Ltd, a leading seller of feed.
And the reduced consumption of feed has now started to affect maize growers as the price of the grain, the main ingredient for feed, has fallen due to reduced demand by feed millers.
The feed industry is experiencing a lull since the fall in poultry farming due to avian influenza outbreaks at the end of 2011. As well as poultry farms, the disease ravaged a number of breeding farms and thus production of day-old chicks (DOC) of both broilers and layers slumped this year.
Average production of broiler DOC, which is used for meat production, fell to 5,000,000 a week in 2012 from nearly 9,000,000 per week last year. Production of layer DOC for egg production also nosedived, said Shamsul Arefin Khaled, director of Nourish Feeds Ltd.
"The demand for feeds depends on both supply and demand for the one-day-old chicks. The higher the production of chicks, the higher the demand for feed," said Khaled of Nourish. The firm is also engaged in poultry breeding.
This is the second time since 2008 that the feed industry, which caters to poultry and fish farming, has been hit due to bird flu outbreaks in the poultry industry.
Currently, around 70 feed companies, including some foreign ones, are operating in Bangladesh to meet the demand for feed at 2,700,000 to 3,000,000 tonnes a year, according to an estimate of the FIAB.
According to Shahjahan, it will take a year to recover from the damage and that the demand for feed might drop by 20% to 2,200,000- 2,400,000 tonnes at the end of 2012 because of bird flu.