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A consumer survey conducted in Italy provides some interesting data on consumer reaction to the outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in the country. The results show that only 27% of consumers continued to consume poultry products in the days immediately following the announcement that bird flu had arrived in Italy. These consumers made no changes in their eating habits.
But 73% of the population immediately eliminated poultry from their diet.
Of those who eliminated poultry following the governments announcement, 47% of the total people surveyed said that they would eventually reintroduce it to their diets. But one out of every six people (16%) said that they would eliminate poultry from their diets permanently.
Prior to the outbreak, 80% of Italian families consumed poultry regularly. Chicken accounted for 33% of the total meat consumed in Italy.
Since the governments initial announcement of February 11, 30,000 industry jobs have been lost and the entire industry sector, worth $3.5 Billion (US) is threatened.
The survey data give a good picture of what the American poultry industry is faced with unless it begins to take action to educate the public on a proactive basis. Poultry is a $35 Billion industry in the United States. A 16% decline would equate to $5.6 Billion in lost sales.
Jim Malmberg founded and writes for fluFactor. fluFactor is an online blog (http://flufactor.blogspot.com) that delivers news and information on the spread of the bird flu. The blog has a user forum section, and users can also subscribe to receive daily updates by e-mail. the site pays special attention to the economic consequences to bird flu outbreaks.