Turkey bosses in call for balance

Turkey bosses are calling for a balanced approach from all stakeholders in the poultry sector, from retailers all the way through to producers themselves.

Speaking at the British Turkey Awards last week, chairman of the British Turkey Sector Group, Andrew Lewins said that with an increasingly tough trading environment, everyone involved needed to work together.

"We need to ask for a balanced approach from all stakeholders, be they customers, politicians, media or industry players." He highlighted the UK reaction in light of avian influenza, pointing to the balanced handling of the situation by retailers, media and consumers. "We must acknowlege the pragmatism of the British public, whose response so dramatically differed from the hysteria in some European quarters."

However, he hit out at the government for failing to back an EU scheme to provide funding to the poultry industry. The European parliament recognised the damage to the poultry industry and actually changed legislation in order to 50:50 fund from Brussels any member government who assisted their industry in reacting to the market.

"It is frankly a disgrace that our own government voted in favour of this legislative change and then subsequently refused to help its own industry, after we offered to pay their 50% share."

He said the result of the situation was that some member states are being funded to adjust their businesses, while continuing to export to the UK at prices below the cost of production.

Food miles was highlighted as an opportunity for British turkey. "Can it really be right to burn 200 gallons of diesel to transport each 20t load of turkey from Poland?" Lewins asked.

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