Grain price slides on H5N1 bird flu confirmation

Wheat values have slipped more than 50p/tonne after the UK’s first case of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu was confirmed.

Although most firms say it is far too early to be talking about a fall in the consumption of poultry meat, many have already factored in a slow-down in production.

Grain director Jon Duffy at Frontier said feed wheat sales to the poultry sector had fallen appreciably in recent weeks and predicted more of the same.

“Undoubtedly UK consumption will go down and that has already had an effect on chick placings, as broiler producer foresaw the fall in demand.

“In the last 3-4 weeks there has been a huge number of two-for-one offers in the supermarkets – producers are paying for that and wondering what is the point in producing at a loss.”

A spokesman for Grampian Foods, which is Scotland and England’s major processor of chicken, said it was business as usual.

“Let’s get this into perspective: It’s only been found in one wild swan on the coast.”

A small number of Grampian broiler producers were caught in the wild bird risk area, but were not subject to any movement restrictions.

But he said the firm was in talks over a promotional drive with British Chicken Marketing to shore up consumption.

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