UK poultry production dropped in 2014

UK production of poultry meats decreased by 1% in 2014, the first drop in five years.

According to the Pig and Poultry Pocketbook, published by AHDB, 2014 marked the first time since 2009 that poultry production has been lower while chicken production was also lower, following six consecutive annual increases.

Broiler chicken meat, which accounts for 84% of production also fell by 1% in 2014, to 1.38 million tonnes (t). This comes after a 5% increase in 2013 due to the horsemeat scandal.

The 2014 decline was attributed to a 1% reduction of chick placements on farms, which was down to a fall in demand at the end of 2013.

Turkey production, which accounts for 10% was down 9% while UK duck production increased by 5%.

According to AHDB, with production falling in 2014, imports of fresh and frozen poultry meat to the UK grew to 407,800t, up 6% compared to the previous year.

The Netherlands remained the largest supplier of poultry meat to the UK, with stable shipments for the year, while most of the increases came from Poland and Ireland, with shipments increasing 8% and 38% respectively. Imports of processed poultry products also increased in 2014, but the gains were smaller, at 5%.

Most of the rise came from the top two suppliers, Thailand and Brazil, with imports up 7% and 39% respectively, while imports from the EU fell 1%. This led to total poultry meat imports to the UK being 6% higher than in 2013 at 769,675t.

Exports of fresh and frozen poultry meat from the UK were up 2% at 348,000t, due to an increase in shipments to markets outside the EU. Exports to other EU countries fell by 3%, although they still accounted for nearly 70% of the total. Among the key growth markets outside the EU were South Africa, Hong Kong and Benin. Shipments to South Africa have been on hold since November after an outbreak of avian influenza in Yorkshire.

AHDB was optimistic for this year, saying 2015 had got off to a good start, with promotions from retailers leading to higher demand, which has encouraged producers to increase output. Placements and slaughterings in the first quarter have increased year-on-year, with broiler chick placements up 3% at 241 million chicks, while slaughterings have increased by 1% to 226 million head.

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