Feet should be kept firmly on the promotional gas pedal during the current period of economic turbulence, was the advice given at the recent Agra Informa World Poultry 2009 conference in London.

History showed that companies which relaxed their promotional and marketing campaigns until the storms abated were left behind when normal trading was resumed, said Jonathan Banks, business insight director at the market research giants Nielsen.

In the early 1980s, at the time of the last recession, those that gritted their teeth and still spent on sales and marketing had a 276% lift in throughput five years on from the recession against 19% for those that eased up on the accelerator pedal.

Rabobank’s poultry specialist Nan Dirk Mulder went along with the IMF’s forecast that recovery would start in the USA at the end of 2009 and the rest would follow in 2010, with consumer and industry confidence the key to the process.

Managing animal protein value chain will be more challenging than ever before, he warned, but the industry was well positioned in time of crisis and higher industry volatility. The gap between winners and losers would be immense and long-term survival would go to those who dealt best with volatility in feed ingredients and exchange rates.

In answer to a free-range egg question, Banks claimed that no one knew the welfare issues facing consumers better than the head office supermarket buyers, the managers and the boards. But that did not stop him offering to help.

“My advice to them is to be ahead of the legislation and consumer demand. The phrase we use is ‘choice editing’ on behalf of the customers. The problem with that is that consumers love cheap food and if they only put expensive food on their shelves then they will go out of business, So there is a balancing act that they have to achieve.”

Slovenia’s credit crunch has caused the public to buy less meat, trade down by shopping at discount stores and at eat and go establishments, said Nada Krajnc of Perutnina Ptuj, manufacturers of the Poli. The company claimed it to be the number one chicken sausage in Europe.

“Poli is the first customer choice, leading by market share and rate of sales. People have an irresistible desire for Poli – an all chicken mean sausage that sells throughout the Balkans and parts of the EU including the UK,” she said.