Campaign urges Saudi chicken boycott over price rises

Campaign image for "Let it Rot" campaign Saudis regularly use social media to express their discontent in a country where protests are banned

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People in Saudi Arabia are using social media websites to protest against a sudden increase in the cost of chicken.

A Twitter campaign entitled "Let it Rot" is urging residents to punish traders, who it says have raised prices by as much as 40% in the past two weeks, by not eating chicken.

The government has imposed a chicken export ban in a bid to boost supplies.

However, there are fears that this could cause regional shortages as the Gulf Kingdom is a leading producer.

In July, the soaring price of chicken in Iran sparked a huge online debate and unprecedented protests in one provincial town.

A key factor in the poultry price hike was the imposition of Western sanctions on the country's banking system - not something that has affected Saudi Arabia.

'Speculators'

Saudi Agriculture Minister Fahd Balghunaim said that the rising cost of chicken was the result of a major shortfall in production, with local suppliers able to meet only 45% of the demand in the kingdom. He also blamed a 30-40% increase in the price of animal feed.

In an effort to increase supplies and reduce prices, the government has announced an export ban and added chicken to a list of commodities that must be available at a reasonable price, the Financial Times reports.

In the meantime, supporters of the "Let it Rot" campaign have posted pictures of what they say are piles of unsold chickens in supermarkets. They have also posted cartoons showing chickens reading newspapers because no-one was buying them.

"Wholesalers are sending chickens to other Gulf markets and ignoring our local markets," Fahd from al-Khobar wrote on Twitter.

Hassan al-Sai asked: "Why people are left to face traders and are forced to boycott? Isn't it the government's role to protect consumers and stop speculators?"

Saudis regularly use social media to express their discontent in a country where political parties, unions and protests are banned.

Last year, the government forced the dairy group Almarai to cut dairy prices following a campaign on Twitter and YouTube calling for a boycott.

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