Poultry Industry Is Facing Uncertain Future

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), January 31, 2004 | Go to article overview

Poultry Industry Is Facing Uncertain Future


Byline: DAVID McCOY

THE British poultry industry is standing "on the edge of a precipice'', it was be claimed next week.

The National Farmers' Union will raise several key issues affecting the British poultry industry at a briefing in London, including:

l The doubling of grain prices in the last six months leading to spiralling feed costs;

l The investment made by the industry, particularly in regard to farm assurance for chicken meat;

l The consumers' response; and,

l What does the ban on meat from Thailand mean for the British poultry producer?

"United Kingdom poultry farmers are facing an uncertain future,'' said NFU Chief Poultry Advisor, Peter King. "They are currently receiving less than cost price to produce top quality farm assured British chicken.

"The whole supply chain must pull together to avoid a shortfall of UK- produced poultry meat available to consumers on the supermarket shelves.''

Meanwhile, the NFU said this week that, following the ban on Thai chicken imports, there was increasing pressure on UK farmers to supply more quality assured poultrymeat at a time when prices were below the cost of production.

Poultry farmers' margins are being squeezed with high feed costs due to doubling of grain prices over the past year (pounds 55-pounds 110).

For many poultry producers, it is standard in the chicken industry to have feed prices governed by the processor, with those rearing chicken for an integrated supply chain having feed, chick and liveweight prices also set.

Chairman of the NFU Poultry Board, Charles Bourns, said: "We have asked the main retailers to explore the opportunity of minimising the impact of future input price changes, such as feed and chick price.

"We would also ask retailers to source 'Little Red Tractor' marked assured chicken. Consumers can then be certain that they are buying British, buying quality, and buying from farmers producing to high standards.

"The NFU is continuing its discussions with the major retailers and encouraging them to urge their suppliers to increase the price paid to poultry producers in response to the escalation in feed prices. …

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