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Cheap chickens flood British market

by 5m Editor
22 February 2006, at 12:00am

UK - A glut of cheap poultry meat is flooding British markets from the EU, where bird flu in wild birds has led to a plunge in sales.

Cheap chickens flood British market - UK - A glut of cheap poultry meat is flooding British markets from the EU, where bird flu in wild birds has led to a plunge in sales. Take me to eFeedLink

Poultry meat, mainly from Italy where sales are down 70 percent, is sold to British wholesalers who supply the cooked food industry, although some whole chickens and chicken quarters may end up in discount supermarkets. Some are also destined for the processed food industries.

However, imported chicken is not available at leading supermarkets or fastfood chains as such establishments have long-term contracts with suppliers.

The cheap imports will hit Britain's poultry industry hard. Whole chickens nearing the end of their shelf life were being sold for US$1.45 a kilogram. In Britain, a producer needs to sell his birds for at least US$2.12 a kilogram to break even, although many have lowered prices to US$1.91 a kilogram. Imported chicken, however has fallen below US$1.54 a kilogram.

Italians are more concerned than their EU counterparts about catching bird flu from chickens. A survey indicated that 83 percent of Italians are highly concerned about the virus, compared with 67 percent in other parts of the EU.

The Italian poultry industry has lost GBP480 (US$837 million) in the past week, when avian flu was confirmed in a wild bird in Sicily, and one sixth of poultry workers have lost their jobs.

Charles Bourns, chairman of the National Farmers' Union poultry board, said the British market can absorb some surplus from the rest of Europe but it must not become the dumping ground for cheap chickens.

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council urged farmers to cut back on production as even companies who supply mainstream supermarkets are having difficulties keeping prices up.

Source: eFeedLink - 21st February 2006

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