Reprieve for lambs as virus scraps Easter lunch
Paris: Normally at this time of year, millions of people around the world are planning elaborate lamb-based menus -- roasts, kebabs or stews -- for a celebratory Easter Sunday family lunch.
But this year, there will be fewer tables groaning with holiday food as the coronavirus outbreak has put paid to religious and family gatherings.
Lamb sales have plummeted, and sheep farmers around the world are in despair.
"I was planning to slaughter 100 to 120 sheep, now I don't know what to do with them. Nobody does," said farmer Christos Kyriakopoulos in the western Peloponnese region of Greece.
"Farmers are out of options. We are facing a 90-percent drop in demand compared to last year."
In Christian Orthodox Greece, fines of 1,000 euros ($1,087) have been introduced for gatherings over 10 people to discourage the traditional Easter feast hosted on every village square.
"Seven out of 10 Greeks enjoy roasting lamb for Easter. That's not happening this year," Greek meat trader Angelos Asteriou told AFP, staring dejectedly at the inventory on his computer screen.
Greek former agriculture minister Evangelos Apostolou last month said the virus could see as many as two million lambs spared the butcher's knife this year.
In Britain, where people traditionally enjoy a roast leg of lamb on the religious holiday, some 35,000 fewer lambs were slaughtered in the week ending March 28, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
And in major lamb producer New Zealand, meat industry officials said the Easter lamb kill was about half that of last year. - AFP