Poultry meat prices in the UK have remained largely untouched by the arrival of avian flu in some European countries.

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said only the wholesale market had been affected by the flood of cheap, unwanted meat coming in from continental Europe, where chicken sales had plummeted.

“Most poultry meat is traded direct from the processors to retailers or into foodservice.

Wholesale trade only accounts for 10-15% of the UK market,” he added.

“Bird flu would only affect domestic prices seriously if it turned into a sustained epidemic, giving lower prices to feed through into contracts.

British consumers are far less volatile and we don’t expect to see any significant shift in consumption because the message is out there that the meat is safe to eat.”

David Thacker, managing director of Suffolk-based Crown Chicken, said prices had come back more than 10% in the last week to 44p/lb, but Italian traders were offering meat at 37p.

“If the major retailers weren’t promoting chicken so heavily right now, the wholesale market would be sloshing with them.”

Meanwhile, the industry is still struggling with high gas costs, and is in talks with retailers to raise prices, Mr Bradnock added.