BPC warns that poultry price rises are inevitable as feed prices soar

The British Poultry Council has warned that spiralling wheat prices worldwide are driving up the cost of poultry production making price rises for poultry meat in the UK inevitable.

The BPC held an emergency meeting yesterday on the impact of soaring poultry feed costs. It is calling on retailers and other customers to immediately recognise the full higher costs in the prices they pay to poultry companies and farmers. The BPC is also supporting calls within the EU for EU set-aside policies to be suspended to free up more land for cereal growing for food production.

Feed wheat costs are 40% higher than this time last year and almost 70% higher than 2005, according to the BPC. Wheat constitutes two thirds of feed for chicken, turkey and other poultry in Britain. Other ingredients, especially non-GM soya meal, which is used only in poultry feed in the UK, have also increased at a staggering rate.

"British poultry producers and processors have not been able to recover these cost increases from supermarkets and their other customers," said Ted Wright, chairman of BPC, "even though we are currently seeing a strong preference for British poultry meat by consumers."

He warned with many farmers and processors now receiving less than their cost of production, the industry is at a tipping point. The British poultry sector has seen continued consolidation and concentration as companies have tried to mitigate cost rises by greater efficiencies and economies of scale. The industry has been carrying rising costs for the last two years and cannot continue in this unsustainable way. A substantial and long-term price rise is necessary to retain a viable UK poultry meat sector capable of re-investing to meet new regulatory requirements and the needs of consumers, Wright said.

"Costs are rising in all producing countries across the world due to climatic pressures on cereals production and the large extra demand created by government targets for bio-ethanol in the USA, UK and other countries. The prices to consumers everywhere will have to rise," he added.

"We believe that British consumers would rather know they are supporting sustainable British production, than pay more for frozen poultry meat transported from the other side of the world."

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