By John Farrant

THE new British Poultry Council, like its predecessor the British Poultry Meat Federation, represents over 90% of the poultry meat produced in this country.

Members range from the major breeders and commercial hatcheries to the producers and processors.

The name matches the British Egg Industry Council, which could make similar claims for the egg sector.

BPC chairman John Williams was quick to point out that the new name did not mean an extension, more a clearer definition, with the two organizations working together in areas where they had common interests.

Minister for the food chain Lord Whitty formally launched the new body in London last month, when he gave credit to the poultry industry for achieving success through efficiency and focussing on the needs of the consumer.

John Williams asked for his support in forthcoming WTO negotiations when implementing tariff cuts on imports to give the poultry sector fair treatment.

This point was taken up by James Hook of PD Hook Hatcheries when Lord Whitty took questions from the floor.

He asked for help, not trade-offs, referring to the results of past negotiations that have left the poultry industry with relatively little protection through tariffs, much lower than some agricultural products.

The BPC represents producers and processors of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.

It has 138 member companies responsible for 90% of British poultry meat production and employing about 45,000 people directly and 90,000 indirectly.

The industry produces about 1.5 million tonnes of poultry meat each year at an estimated value of 2.5 billion, and is an important agricultural customer, accounting for 20% of the nations wheat crop.

Chicken accounts for 38% of meat consumption in the UK; turkey 9%; ducks and geese less than 1%.

Poultry imports have grown rapidly in the past 10 years from 7% to over 20% of the market.