U.S. Project Supports Marketing of Traditionally-raised Poultry to Fight Bird Flu
Hanoi, March 5, 2009
While many Vietnamese buy chickens produced on large and biosecure commercial poultry farms, a new survey funded by the U.S. government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) indicates that consumers are prepared to pay more to buy safe, better-tasting chicken raised outdoors on free-range pastures. According to 500 consumers and 50 retailers surveyed in Hanoi, 70 percent of households would pay up to 10 percent more for guaranteed safe food products. Sixty-eight percent of consumers say their main response to disease outbreaks is to continue buying the same type of meat, but shift to meat with that carried confirmation of origin and some form of health certification.
The survey comes at the start of a new US-funded initiative designed to strengthen the free-range poultry sector in Vietnam and better control the spread of avian influenza and other poultry diseases. The initiative aims to create public-private partnerships to developing supply chains – from poultry farms all the way to the consumer -- that promote chickens raised under traditional conditions with high standards for safety, free from avian influenza and other poultry diseases. Through September 2009, the project will initially help poultry cooperatives and animal feed and breeding companies with their networks of farmers to raise production standards while promoting higher consumer awareness of biosecure chickens.
Vietnam is one of the countries most affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza caused by the H5N1 virus. Although government leadership has been successful in significantly reducing the number of outbreaks, the virus is still being detected in the country’s poultry population. Avian influenza can be transmitted from animals to humans. Experts are concerned that the virus could mutate into an influenza strain that is transmissible between humans, potentially launching a global influenza pandemic. Since 2003, Vietnam has had 109 human H5N1 cases, resulting in 54 deaths. Since 2005, USAID has provided $27.5 million for avian influenza prevention and control in Vietnam.