roast chicken 88.
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Barring further damage to poultry farms following the discovery of avian influenza in the country, the industry believes it will have no problems meeting demand for the upcoming Pessah holiday.
"For the moment, there is not a problem," the Egg and Poultry Board told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. Prices, the group said, were not expected to exceed the "natural rise ahead of Pessah."
According to the board's preliminary survey, consumption of chicken had either not dropped or dropped only slightly, since two cases of bird flu were confirmed in the country late last week.
"The public is not hysterical," the group's spokeswoman said.
A Jerusalem Post survey of several food stores and butcher shops also met with mixed reactions. One Jerusalem supermarket indicated that poultry sales were down by 40 percent on Friday and 80% on Sunday, while a nearby butcher shop said sales did not fall Friday.
Poultry Farmers Association Secretary Itzik Cohen said it was too early to gauge the impact of the discovery, but was optimistic sales would continue as usual. "There aren't very many options, and the country won't turn vegetarian because of this," he said.
He estimated damages totaled roughly NIS 10 million to NIS 20m. based on the destruction of 500,000 fowl.
Poultry farming sales sector were NIS 3.2 billion in 2005, including NIS 1.5b. worth of chickens, NIS 533m. of turkeys, NIS 644m. of eggs and NIS 494m. of chicks. The industry directly employed 4,090 farmers, and many more butchers and other workers.
Israelis are leading buyers of poultry products, consuming 36.6 kilograms of processed chicken per person in 2005, against 40.8 kg in the US, 29.5 kg in Canada, 22.5 kg in the UK, and 13.3 kg in France. Israelis also led in turkey consumption and was near the top in the consumption of eggs.
Imports of Israeli poultry to the EU were frozen following the discovery of the virus. Israel exported 3,000 tons of turkey breast meat and 200 tons of goose breast in 2005.
Dun & Bradstreet Israel said Thursday an outbreak of the avian flu in Israel could put 40% of companies active in the sector in danger of closure, up from 24% before news of the disease's discovery.