The EU Commission recently referred to the poultry industry as the most “dynamic” of all the meat sectors and nowhere is this dynamism more apparent than in the UK.
The UK poultry sector is enjoying steady growth, supply chain efficiency and increasing employment. The UK also supplies about 14% of all the EU’s poultry meat, only beaten by France.
Writing in the introduction to the British Poultry Council’s (BPC) new “state of the industry” report, DEFRA farm minister George Eustice describes the sector as “a significant contributor to UK growth and skills”.
“It contributes £3.3bn to UK GDP, with every £1bn generating another £1.3bn in the rest of the UK economy,” he says. “The industry supports 35,400 direct jobs and a further 37,900 indirect jobs in the wider supply chain.
“As we progress through the 21st century, with increasing populations and pressure on global resources, food supply and security will become an increasing concern. The British poultry meat industry understands the potential risks and I’m confident that, with their increasing commitment to supplying affordable and nutritious food, Britain will fare well in the global race.”
“British consumers buy more poultry than any other meat,” says the report, compiled for the BPC by Oxford Economics. “By weight, poultry makes up about half of all meat purchased in the UK.”
The production sector has responded well to this growing demand. Total poultry meat output reached a peak of 1.6m tonnes in 2012 – up 10% in just three years – with almost one billion chicks, poults and ducklings placed each year.
Broilers dominate this scene, accounting for 93% of all poultry, and the BPC report applauds the work of the genetics companies “to ensure the birds produced are efficient, healthy and meet all welfare expectations”.
Turkey growers are also recognised for increasing average meat output by 7% since 2001 to to 12.8kg/bird.
Trade has also been growing fast, though imports still outweigh exports, especially in value terms.