The International Poultry Council has been informed that The European Union was close to becoming a net meat importer for the first time last year and is expected to do so during 2008.

According to Cees Vermeeren of AVEC, the European poultry producers and trade association, this is happening in spite of favourable rates of exchange of exporters.

He said that this was due to a number of factors including the addition of a new member state that had formerly been a major importer from EU countries and also increasing competition from third countries such as Brazil and Thailand.

EU data last year indicated that exports amounted to 868,000t and imports 800,000t, he said.

The true value of the data will not be known until the figures for trade that has been conducted outside the tariff rate quota (TFQ) arrangements for Brazil and Thailand are published, said Mr Vermeeren.