As poultry producers gather today at this year's Pig and Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns said more money needed to be passed back down the supply chain to safeguard the sector's future and ensure they can meet the demand in the long term.
Production costs in the chicken meat sector have risen by nearly 25% (14p/kg liveweight) in the past year, but producers are not receiving enough money back to cover their costs.
A survey carried out by the NFU revealed that, on average, producers are making a loss of 2.7% on every bird they produce, once production costs are added in.
The NFU collected market data and costings information from a sample of producers on a bi-monthly basis.
Mr Bourns said: "A recent British Marketing Survey showed consumers are still actively seeking to buy assured British chicken but we need to ensure enough money is passed back down the supply chain to make businesses economically viable in the long term.
"Consumers tastes are changing and producers are ready and willing to produce what shoppers want to buy. But in order to be able to keep up with these changing demands, producers must receive enough money to ensure their businesses are sustainable.
"It's a harsh reality of life that costs are rising, not just for farmers, and everyone is finding it difficult. But producers cannot continue to absorb the cost of rising input prices without receiving a fairer return."
Typical costs of production equate to 69.85p/kg liveweight, but typical farmgate prices (return to producer) equate to 68.08p/kg liveweight.
Visitors to the NFU stand at the Pig and Poultry Fair will be able to discuss this and other issues with its poultry advisers.
The lowest price NFU survey participants are paying for certain inputs include £26 per 10 chicks (up 2.1% on 2007 price), and £221 per tonne of feed (up 42.4% on 2007 price).