Farmers lose out on poultry boom

9 May 2000

Farmers lose out on poultry boom

By Fwi staff

BRITISH producers are likely to lose out on a predicted surge in chicken and turkey sales over the next decade, according to a report to be released on Wednesday (10 May).

Cheap foreign imports and red tape mean British farmers are unlikely to recoup any benefits from a forecast 21 per cent rise in poultry meat, it warns.

The study, by the National Farmers Union, is called Unbeatable!. It will be launched at the British Pig and Poultry Fair, at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

Health-conscious consumers are expected to eat much more poultry, the report suggests. But the amount supplied by British producers will fall by as much as 11%.

Consumption of value-added chicken products rose nearly 10% in 1998 alone, with chicken now accounting for more than a third of the primary meat market.

But farmers in countries such as Hungary, Thailand and Brazil are set to benefit from the continuing boom in sales. Cheaper imports are expected to flood into Britain.

British farmers are suffering from the strong Pound, swingeing costs and new laws from Brussels which are undermining their competitiveness, said Ben Gill, NFU president.

“Our ability to compete has been severely damaged in recent years and we have lost a significant market share as a result,” he said.

But British producers could turn the situation around, added Mr Gill. They are dynamic, professional and innovative, and produce poultry to the highest standards.

“We are doing some amazingly positive things and we now need to be afforded every opportunity to get on with the job,” said Mr Gill.

Some producers are offering new products for niche markets such as organic eggs, duck, geese and game. Others are creating added-value products and selling by mail order.

Despite this innovation and professionalism, imports from countries with lower standards and production costs are increasing, the report warns.

In 1998, 8975 tonnes of fresh and frozen chicken came into this country from Brazil. For the first ten months of 1999, that figure had risen to 10,651t.

The report calls for help to enable British producers to compete on equal terms.

It demands support and assistance with the new Laying Hens Directive, exemption from the Climate Change Levy and improvements in country-of-origin labelling rules.

The egg industry particularly needs reassurance that new World Trade rules will ensure producers are not competitively undermined by imports produced to lower welfare standards.

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