Higher ceiling price provide only 'slight relief' for Malaysia's poultry industry, analysts say

Effective July 1, chicken will cost RM9.40 a kg, up by 50 sen, based on the new ceiling price. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The higher ceiling price for broiler chickens and eggs may only provide "slight relief" to Malaysian poultry players, who have been battling margin compression for the past several months.

TA Research analyst Tan Kam Meng described the recently-announced hike in ceiling price for chickens as only "marginal".

He also said that the increase in ceiling price for chicken from farm is unlikely to completely compensate for the cost borne by the breeders, especially smaller players.

"We believe the leeway for increase in average selling price (ASP) will slightly improve the earnings for both Leong Hup International Bhd and QL Resources Bhd as the input cost seems to have moderated recently.

"We reiterate 'buy' on Leong Hup and QL with respective target prices of 89 sen per share and RM6 per share," stated Mr Tan in a note issued on Thursday (June 30).

Effective July 1, chicken will cost RM9.40 (S$2.97) a kg, up by 50 sen, based on the new ceiling price set by the Cabinet.

The Cabinet decided not to float the price of chicken, a move that has brought relief to many quarters, especially consumers who are facing the brunt of inflation.

The Cabinet also set the new ceiling price of chicken eggs at 45 sen per egg for Grade A, 43 sen for Grade B and 31 sen for Grade C, all up by two sen each, in Peninsular Malaysia.The new prices will be in effect until Aug 31.

Mr Tan also said the higher ceiling price came as a compromise, taking into account the inflationary pressure faced by consumers and the increase in feed cost for the suppliers.

He noted that prices have been surging across the board for livestock, mainly due to increased feed price and demand recovery from the reopening of the economy.

The average prices of live ducks, cows and pigs in Malaysia have increased 8 per cent to 32 per cent compared to last year.

The spike in average prices of livestock other than chicken, where the price has been kept low via ceiling price, led to even higher demand for chickens, according to him.

"We remain optimistic on Leong Hup and QL as the increase in poultry's ASP would provide a boost to profitability of their poultry segment.

"Furthermore, both poultry players are well positioned to capture market share of smaller farmers who left the business.

"The consumption of chicken and eggs is expected to be resilient despite global inflationary headwinds as they are one of the cheapest sources of protein," he added.

In a separate note, MIDF Research said that new ceiling price would help to limit potentially larger adjustment that would add to the overall food inflation.

It also pointed out that the new ceiling price for chicken at RM9.40 per kg for Peninsular Malaysia is only an increase of 5.6 per cent from the previous ceiling.

"So, this is smaller than the expected increase to around RM10 to RM12 per kg if chicken prices were to be floated.

"Meanwhile, the approval given to the Farmers' Organisation Authority to bring more than 4,500 tonnes of chicken from Thailand is expected to stabilise chicken supply in the domestic market.

"We expect these measures will limit upward pressure on chicken price for now," the research house said.

Going forward, MIDF Research foresees the government to continue exploring more initiatives to ease the upward pressures on food prices in the longer run.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.