Poultry meat outlook looks positive

“The poultry meat industry likes recessions,” according to Gary Ford, chief poultry advisor at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). 

Speaking at last week’s AHDB Outlook conference, he told delegates that the price of poultry meat stands it in good stead in times of consumer hardship, although the industry has not been achieving growth purely on price.

Per capita consumption has been on the up since the 1990s, with prospects for the increasing global consumption of meat, between now and 2024, providing a positive outlook for the industry.

While he described campylobacter as a big threat to the industry – “we are on thin ice” – he said the impact of the Food Standards Agency’s name and shame campaign has only had a short-lived effect on sales. “Typically large integrators have noted a drop-off of 5%, but within four to five days of the announcement, that has returned to normal,” he explained.

There has been some evidence to suggest that newer sheds result in fewer cases of campylobacter, he explained. However, the UK has an old estate of sheds, with the average poultry shed age at 24 years, and 60% estimated to be more than 20 years-old.

Recent outbreaks of avian influenza have also been causing problems, with a number of countries, including South Africa, which takes 11% of UK poultry exports, imposing a ban on imports of UK poultry meat in the wake of the confirmed bird flu cases in East Yorkshire and, more recently, Hampshire.

However, he said the outlook up to 2024 was positive, both for production and consumption.

In terms of other trends, Ford also noted that he had seen a slowdown in promotion on poultry, as the ‘war on waste’ kicks in.

For more on the performance of the UK poultry sector, and the effects on the industry from campylobacter and avian influenza, watch our exclusive video interview with Ford.

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