According to the Poultry Federation of India (PFI), a body representing the farmers, wholesale feed prices are currently ruling around R28,000 per tonne against R20,000 per tonne a year ago.
The increase in prices is mainly because of rising exports of soybean meal a key component of feed over the last six months. This has resulted in an increase in wholesale broiler meat rates in Delhi, currently at R95-100 per kg for the weight of a live bird.
Retail prices of broiler meat in Delhi are currently at R180-200 per kg. Two weeks back, prices were in the range of R140 to R150 per kg.
Ricky Thaper, convener, PFI, told FE that during the winter season, poultry farmers have to use heaters to maintain the temperature in poultry sheds, which jacks up the cost of production.
Also, poultry farmers have limited options when it comes to substitutes to cope with the rising cost of feed, Thapar said.
Meanwhile, according to data released recently by Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA), exports of soybean meal during January 2013 stood at 6.2 lakh tonne compared to 4.8 lakh tonne reported in the same month last year, an increase of more than 28%.
However, exports over April 2012-January 2013 stand at 2.5 million tonne compared to more than 3 mt reported over the same period last fiscal.
The huge surge in soybean meal prices is unlikely to come down to last year's level because of sustained global demand, a poultry trader from Punjab said.
An empowered group of ministers (EGoM) recently decided on duty-free import of oil-meals to ensure feed availability for livestock. Earlier, the import duty on oil meals was 15%.
India is emerging as a major poultry production centre in the world. It ranks fifth on broiler production and fourth on egg production. The Indian poultry sector has been growing at 8-10% annually over the last decade, maturing from a backyard activity to large-scale integrated business.
Demand has been growing steadily on the back of favourable socio-economic factors such as healthy GDP growth, rising purchasing power of populace, changing food habits and increasing urbanisation.