Leading shopping outlets have reported a severe shortage of fresh chicken over the past few days due to a reported decline in supplies from Saudi Arabia. None of the Saudi brands were available in the market yesterday, sources said, without specifying the reasons.

The Qatari market depends heavily on imports from Saudi Arabia since the produce from local farms can meet only a small portion of the demand.

“We have not been getting any stocks from Saudi Arabia for five days. We have not heard of any ban or restrictions on imports. The shortage is caused by some other reasons, probably delays in clearance,” an official of a leading hypermarket told this daily last evening.

“At the moment we don’t have a single piece of fresh chicken in our racks. The limited quantity of locally produced chicken was sold out within hours,” he added.

Al Watania and Al Youm are the major brands of fresh chicken from Saudi Arabia while other Saudi brands are not so popular.

Traders said fresh chicken has a shelf life of seven days and any delay in delivery could affect sales. The sources said there was no shortage of frozen chicken but it is no substitute for loyal customers of fresh chicken. Demand for fresh chicken has seen a rapid rise with an increase in the population. An increasing number of citizens and expatriates are opting for it.

“Sales of fresh chicken amount to about one-third of total sales of fresh meat in our outlets,” said the official. Supplies from local farms have not gone up to meet the increasing demand, he added.

“There is only one farm producing fresh chicken in Qatar and it is too inadequate to meet the demand,” he added.

Sources from another leading outlet confirmed that there was a shortage in the market due to supply disruptions. A leading distributor, however, hinted that the shortage will be resolved probably by today.