Friday, March 17, 2006

Poultry industry in Greece on brink of collapse

An official for the Greek poultry business federation said yesterday that the poultry industry in Greece is close to collapse after a huge decrease in poultry sales because of bird flu fears.

“Give it another two or three months and we can then talk about a complete disaster, the end of our sector,” federation chief Spyros Nonikas said.

Greece, among the first European countries to detect the deadly H5N1 bird flu in wild fowl last month, has so far confirmed 32 cases in swans and geese. It has yet to detect any cases in domestic farm poultry.

“It does not matter that none has been found there. People have stopped buying chicken, people have stopped eating chicken in restaurants,” Nonikas said.

During the first cases of bird flu outbreak in the country poultry sales were down as much as 80 percent. But sales came back somewhat during the first three months of this year and now are down only about 70 percent.

If poultry sales stay at their current rate as many as 6,000 people could lose their jobs.

“We say by June or July a total of 6,000 employees will have to be laid off because businesses will not be able to meet their financial obligations any more,” Nonikas said.

Another 7,000 jobs indirectly linked to poultry producers, including in restaurants and supermarkets, could be lost, he added.

“The only way out of this is if the Prime Minister declares a state of emergency in our sector and the government takes over all payments for debts, wages and other obligations,” Nonikas said.

“Just like it does in a natural disaster.”

Poultry officials estimate that in the past five months the sector has lost about 150 million euros ($181 million dollars) and an additional 25 million more are lost each month.

Posted by john T. on 03/17 at 04:59 PM
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