A snap survey carried by Radio VOP on Friday showed that retailers were limiting stocks that consumers could buy owing to the shortage of chickens that has hit the domestic market.
At the popular Athienitis Spar at Five Avenue Shopping Centre in Harare sales of chickens were limited to two quantities only per customer.
“Due to the current shortages we are limiting the quantity to two packets of chicken or two whole birds per customer,” read a notice pasted in the supermarket.
The shortage of chicken was triggered by a government ban on the importation of chickens after the Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) indicated that local farmers had 1 400 tonnes of frozen poultry in stock because South African and South American imports had priced them out of the market.
The poultry association said monthly production of broiler day-old chicks stood at 2.5 million, surpassing average historic production figures of 2.3 million between 2002 and 2007.
The ZPA had accused South African and South American producers of swindling consumers by brining their chickens. Brining is a flavouring process adopted by some local abattoirs. One of the tell-tale signs of excess brining is water retention. The ZPA had argued that poultry meat imports were high in water content.
However, despite the ban the local poultry producers have failed to satisfy demand for chickens.
The shortage of chicken on the local market has raised fears of a price hike in poultry products.
Already, a black market reminiscent of the 2007-2008 era has already emerged in some parts of the country where some “connected” residents were getting supplies directly from suppliers through acquaintances for resale at inflated prices.