Increase in organic poultry production

The number of organic poultry birds increased during 2013, despite the continued decline of organic farming land in the UK.

According to the latest statistics compiled by Defra, fully-­certified organic hectarage in the UK fell by 3.9% in 2013, compared to a 7.38% fall experienced the previous year.

Looking at livestock numbers, the UK’s population of organic cattle, sheep and pigs declined at a slower rate in 2013, while poultry livestock numbers increased by 1.2%. However, this was on the back of a long-term decline since 2007. Organic sheep and pig numbers both fell by 13% to one million, and 30,000 head respectively. The number of organic cattle dropped by 2.4% to 283,000.

According to the Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), the increase in organic poultry was an indicator of shopper preferences, which it said could be a precursor to improvements in demand in other sectors.

The latest data also showed that organic sheep make up 3% of total livestock in the UK, while cattle makes up 2.9%, poultry 1.5% and pigs 0.6%.

Steven Jacobs, research and development officer at (OF&G), added: “As the economy is re-­awakening and the organic market along with it, stemming the loss of producers is crucial and we’d hope to see that turn around in the next couple of years. In the meantime, it does play into the hands of those who remained steadfast with organics and who will see demand increase for their produce.”

Numbers of organic producers and processor numbers were also down. The only region to record an increase was the South East (including London), which saw a 0.7% rise.

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