Poultry sales stand firm, say retailers

The UK’s major food retailers have reported little impact on sales of poultry meat and eggs following the last week’s outbreak of H5N1 at a turkey farm in Holton, Suffolk. 

Of the five retailers approached by Farmers Weekly, (Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons) only Tesco reported a fall in sales of poultry meat. 

“We’ve experienced the inevitable dip,” said a Tesco spokesman although he was unwilling to qualify the comment further.  The Association of Convenience Stores also confirmed its members have experienced no adverse effects of the as a result of the outbreak.

However, all the retailers have taken measures to reassure consumers as to the safety of poultry meat.  All have briefed store employees in preparation for increased consumer interest and the British Retail Consortium has confirmed that one retailer plans to improve its in-store literature for shoppers while another has reported an increase in calls to its customer care centre.

In the main consumers appear to have listened to the advice of the Food Standards Agency.  Retailers and faming groups alike have praised DEFRA, the FSA and the Department of Health for their role in maintaining consumer confidence in poultry meat.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “I want to thank our customers and the British public. There are no risks from eating poultry meat and eggs provided they are cooked properly, as of course all food should be.

“We have contacted the major supermarkets and they have seen no significant dip in consumers buying poultry products. On the whole, consumers seem to be listening to and heeding the advice issued by the Food Standards Agency. This means that they are continuing to enjoy excellent quality British poultry meat and eggs.”

UK chicken industry
  • National flock of 850m chickens is largest of any EU member state
  • 87% self-sufficient in chicken meat
  • Retail meat sales £3.6bn annually
  • Average flock size 100,000 to 200,000
  • Average cost of production 55-57p/kg
  • Average wholesale price 51.9p/kg
  • Egg sales worth £1bn annually
  • 30m laying hens

Source: NFU