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Aviagen Turkeys Celebrates 50 Years of BUT Brand

by 5m Editor
28 June 2012, at 7:23am

EU - Aviagen Turkeys Ltd hosted representatives from all the major European Turkey operations at a three day conference (19-21 June) to commemorate 50 years of the B.U.T. brand.

The focus of the conference was to reflect on the past 50 years and to look forward to the challenges and opportunities of the next 20 years and to celebrate the turkey business in general with the key players in the market.

This was a unique opportunity for leaders of European turkey businesses to meet and reflect on the contribution of B.U.T. to the industry and how it will continue to lead the way in the future. Of course no celebration is complete without time to meet and socialise and a key element of the event was to have a lot of fun.

Since the foundation of B.U.T. fifty years ago, the turkey industry has been transformed. Martin Shea, who joined the company in 1970, and now manages the Hockenhull and Holly Berry operations, took the audience through the journey from the early days of B.U.T. to the successful brand it is today, highlighting key players like Hugh Arnold who played a major role in establishing B.U.T. as the leader in turkey breeding.

Many of the customers present share a long history with B.U.T. Heinz Bosse of Kartzfehn, Germany, highlighted the relationship his company has had with B.U.T. “We have a very long, close and deep relationship with B.U.T. For sure we sometimes say 'ok we must change' and we try but we always come back and really believe we have with your product and your people the best partner we can have in this business. We really enjoy being together.”

Much of the conference focussed on the future opportunities and challenges for the turkey industry. Patrick Charlton of Alltech highlighted the competing pressures on global grain production and the vital role agricultural technologies like nutrition and breeding play in enabling protein production to satisfy the demands of an increasing global population.

International poultry consultant, Gordon Butland, reinforced this with an in depth analysis of global market growth opportunities for turkey production. His work showed companies in the market are highly professional and focussed on growth. The consumption of turkey meat is growing in new markets and many start-up projects are being initiated and developed in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Both Patrick Charlton and Gordon Butland agreed that the future for the turkey sector is bright with important growth opportunities, how fast and by how much will be dependent on the ability to market and promote our product to the different global consumers.

“We have a fantastic product and consumption is growing in traditional markets with one or two exceptions. The sector is attracting more investment today than in many previous years and this signals the confidence in the long term health of the sector,” said Gordon Butland.

Director of Global Genetics, Magnus Swalander explained how the investment in the breeding programme and supply chain will make turkey meat more competitive with other proteins. He explained, “Our breeding programme is constantly being improved to ensure it is addressing the challenges of the industry of tomorrow. We always have to be one step in front for developing new selection techniques and approaches. We hold 40 distinct lines specifically to cater for future industry needs and directions”. The latest breeding programme developments were described such as the application of individual water consumption as a selection tool to improve gut health and footpad dermatitis.

Aviagen Turkeys benefits hugely from the technology synergies with other Aviagen and EW-Group companies. This was clearly illustrated by Dr Alfons Koerhuis, Chief Technology Officer, who highlighted investments such as evaluation of Computer Tomography (CT) scanning as a selection tool. These transformational technologies could not be considered by a standalone turkey breeding company. A fact echoed by Dirk Wesjohann, shareholder of the parent EW-Group, who further emphasised their long term commitment to the continuing success of Aviagen Turkeys.

One of the key development opportunities for the European turkey market is in the area of turkey welfare. Following expert presentations, it was clear that the turkey sector has a clear understanding that welfare is a core element in modern farming systems. A series of workshops were held to gather a detailed understanding of the opportunities and challenges welfare presents. With the entire European industry represented, the comprehensive outputs will be used to help direct the breeding, technical and industry priorities in this important area.

Ian Hamilton, Managing Director of Aviagen Turkeys Ltd, commented, “We were delighted with almost 100 per cent attendance by senior executives or owners of all companies purchasing turkey breeding stock in Europe. The success of a conference is measured by the quality of the delegates and the discussion generated by the papers. On both counts we could not have been more pleased and cannot thank our customers enough for taking the time to attend and the speakers for their preparation and delivery of excellent papers.”