Tough times as imports depress poultry prices

Imports of East European poultry have been helping to drive the price of chicken down, contributing to a tough time for UK farmers. According to Revenue and Customs, there were 11,400t of fresh Polish chicken imported in the first 11 months of last year, equating to about 26m chickens.

Figures from the Office of

Statistics show chicken prices in the UK fell by 2.6% last year.

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said there were concerns about the Eastern European product, which is being produced to different standards from the UK, and said it was being "used as a cudgel by retailers to force prices down".

"The volume of imports from Eastern Europe is low compared to those from Brazil, Thailand and the Netherlands. But the concern about the Eastern European product is that it is fresh, as opposed to frozen. Polish product is particularly cheap, as the cost of production and infrastructure are low," he said.

Bradnock also pointed out that it was interesting the East Europeans, as well as the French, were the major opposers of the EU Welfare of Meat Chickens legislation. "It was stopped by a coalition, which included the Netherlands and Poland, as improved standards would put them at a disadvantage."

He added that a number of poultry slaughterhouses had closed due to the onslaught of fresh poultry from Poland.

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