Meat scam leads to surge in Kolkata fish sales

Meat scam leads to surge in Kolkata fish sales

A Fisherman drying different varieties of fish. DH File photo

The scare over rotten meat supply from dump yards has led to an increase in the demand for fish among people in Kolkata.

Across the city, meat traders are experiencing a slump in their businesses over the past few days, but the sale of fish has increased by at least 30 to 40 percent, Soumyajit Das, managing director of State Fisheries Development Corporation Limited, told PTI.

"If our sale in mid-April was around 650-700 kg per day, now it has gone up to nearly 950 kg," he added.

The police last week busted a racket involved in supplying decomposed meat from dumping grounds of the city to restaurants in and around the city. They seized nearly 20 tonnes of rotten meat, meant to be supplied to restaurants, from a cold storage in central Kolkata.

According to an association of meat traders, the consumption of chicken per week in the state is around 2.20 crore kg, followed by beef at nearly 6 lakh kg, mutton at around 5 lakh kg and pork at 1 lakh kg per week.

"There has been at least 20-25 percent drop in the sales of meat due to this carcass racket controversy. The slump is mainly because of fall in demand for meat in restaurants and eateries," Firoz Qurashi of Al Qurashi Meat Trading company said.

Nearly 60 percent of the meat that is sold at the market goes to restaurants and eateries while individual consumers account for 40 percent, he said.

"The carcass racket sells frozen meat, we sell fresh meat. But the controversy has badly hit the business," he added.

Madan Maity, the general secretary of Bengal Poultry Federation, said the frozen meat business has also suffered a blow because of the ongoing controversy.

"Over-the-counter sales have not suffered much as the live chicken is slaughtered in front of the customer. The sale of frozen chicken items, which constitute 3-4 percent of the total chicken sales in the state, has dipped as customers are wary," Maity told PTI.

Several top restaurants of Kolkata in and around the city have agreed there has been a drastic fall in demand for chicken and meat items with customers opting for fish and vegetarian items.

"Roughly, there has been a 60 percent fall in the order of meat items across our member restaurants this week. But we cannot say that the profit margin has gone down as people have replaced chicken and mutton items on their plates with fish and prawn delicacies," Sudesh Poddar, president, Hotel and Restaurants' Association of Eastern India (HRAEI), said.

West Bengal Animal Husbandry and Livestock Minister Swapan Debnath, however, asserted that the sale of frozen meat from Haringhata stores, run by his department, has not taken a hit.

"I have ordered officials to keep a close watch on all the poultry farms of the state," he added.