Challenge Facing EU Poultry Sector

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), March 17, 2004 | Go to article overview

Challenge Facing EU Poultry Sector


Byline: RICHARD HALLERON

THE local poultry industry has been told that it must adapt and evolve if it is to have any chance of surviving in an era where global competition is fast becoming the norm.

These comments were made by Dr Lucy Tucker (pictured) during the Northern Ireland leg of the Alltechhosted 'Expanding Horizons' lecture tour.

Dr Tucker is a poultry research specialist, based at Alltech's European Headquarters in Dunboyne, Co Meath.

"It is essential, therefore, that producers look at what strengths they have and what niche sector they can fill, be it low or high cost products,'' she added.

"Communication from producer through to the final retailer must also improve, so that shoppers can make an informed decision about what it is they are buying and understand why it is priced in a certain manner.''

Dr Tucker's comments were set against the backdrop of a European poultry industry that has been marked by huge variations in output over recent years.

"Turkey placements have dropped considerably since 1996, a factor that reflects reduced producer margins, allied to an oversupply situation,'' she said.

"In contrast, layer placements have remained reasonably constant during the same period while the increase in broiler numbers witnessed over the past two decades continues to gain momentum.''

But by far the biggest challenge facing poultry producers throughout Europe is the week-to-week variation in product prices. Dr Tucker pointed out that average fresh poultry meat prices in the United Kingdom last year varied from pounds 0.80 pence per kilo through to pounds 1.30 per kilo.

And it's not surprising to learn that these wide fluctuations in returns do have a significant impact on producer profitability.

With regard to improved strategies that can be implemented on farm, Dr Tucker referred to a number of key issues. These included getting the best from raw materials, the key role of minerals in the diet, new disease threats and the benefits of branding poultry products.

With regard to raw materials usage, the Alltech representative pointed out that soya had now become the predominant protein source in poultry diets.

"This is a direct consequence of the BSE crisis in Europe,'' she told delegates.

"However, recent enzyme-based research carried out by Alltech, has identified new ways in which sunflower meal can be successfully included in poultry rations at levels of up to 25 per cent. …

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