Kolkata, May 2 : Traders and small businessmen associated with chicken and meat supply in West Bengal have been experiencing "business hiccups" following the busting of rackets in carcass meat and rotten chicken trade.
"With unearthing of the racket selling rotten chicken using formalin, the sales of chicken fell drastically by more than 20 per cent as consumers' sentiment was hit badly and consumption fell.
"Subsequently, the sales improved and now fresh chicken sales are up by around five per cent compared to the usual demand, with reports coming in about carcass meat trade," Bengal Poultry Federation General Secretary Madan Mohan Maity told IANS.
He, however, said that procurement of chicken, particularly frozen chicken by bulk purchasers like restaurants, caterers, had gone down substantially.
Usually, around 2.10 crore kg of chicken a week would be sold across markets in Bengal, of which, frozen chicken accounted for about five per cent, Maity said.
"Of the overall weekly demand, around 10 per cent goes to restaurants and hotels.
Their procurement has plummeted significantly... We are facing business hiccups," Maity said.
Echoing Maity's view, a chicken seller at a retail market in Howrah district said over-the-counter sales usually fall during the summer season but the sales to caterers and restaurants had decreased by 20-30 per cent.
Similarly, many mutton sellers also said that the restaurants had been buying less by around 30-40 per cent for the last one week.
"Procurement of chicken and mutton is less as customers are preferring vegetarian dishes and fish and prawn items.
On an average, we are witnessing about 30 per cent fall in the orders for mutton and chicken items, while the demand for vegetarian, prawn and fish dishes have gone up by almost same proportion," Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) Assistant General Secretary Atikram Gupta told IANS.
He said the association had already issued an advisory to its members to procure meat, chicken and others non-veg materials from certified suppliers in view of the busting of the carcass meat trade racket.
"We are also in discussions with laboratories so that our members can get the procured meat tested," he said.
The unearthing of the racket in the sale of carcass meat collected from dumps to hotels and departmental stores in Kolkata and adjoining suburbs has shocked the common man and forced the state authorities to raid eateries in and around the city.
The police last week seized nearly 20 tonnes of animal meat from a cold storage in north Kolkata that was meant to be supplied to departmental stores and hotels, and arrested 10 persons.
The West Bengal Police has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the sale of carcass meat collected from dump yards in the state.