ANALYSIS - Opening the World Poultry 2012 conference in Brussels on 22 May, Peter Bradnock highlighted some of the strengths of the poultry industry in feeding the growing global human population sustainably, reports senior editor, Jackie Linden. The sector also faces challenges, including volatility in feed price and for exchange rates as well as international trade difficulties and food safety issues, which will be explored during the two-day meeting.
The theme of the conference in the Belgian capital was ‘Meeting Consumer and Retailer Needs, Regulations and Staying in Profit’, said conference chairman, Peter Bradnock of the British Poultry Council in his opening address to the meeting. The event, the 11th in the series organised by Informa, attracted an audience of around 80 from across Europe, the US, the Middle East and Latin America.
The poultry industry is facing a range of complex and conflicting problems, said Mr Bradnock but the conference offers a team of expert and excellent speakers to guide us through the difficulties.
Highlighting the positive aspects of the business, he continued that the world’s poultry industry sees itself as poised to grow vigorously as the growing economies – including China, India and Brazil – develop their taste for meat and generate the incomes to support it.
We see poultry as the most environmentally friendly meat, said Mr Bradnock, as modern breeds are the most efficient converters of feed into liveweight and the most efficient users of water.
Furthermore, eating poultry is acceptable in all religions.
Turning to the challenges, Mr Bradnock mentioned the continuing volatility of the feed ingredient markets as well as exchange rates.
Much of the world’s production depends on access to markets in thoer regions and the industry is dependent on the smooth working of international trade. The International Poultry Council is the industry body that works to formulate the international rules and its President, Jim Sumner, addressed the conference later in the day.
Mr Bradnock continued that while we see the poultry industry as sustainable, there are NGOs and every colour and cause campaigning persuasively to the contrary, as well as animal welfare groups, some of whom are belligerent and unwilling to engage in discussion.
Furthermore, the industry faces well–resourced and often subsidised competition from the other animal protein sectors, he said.
He called on the worldwide industry to take the lead in tackling the issues we face, citing the examples of international trade rules, the responsible use of antibiotics, control of Salmonella and Campylobacter, elimination of avian influenza, the allocation of land use changes in Life Cycle Analysis, over–regulation of the industry and the high cost of its enforcement.
Summing up, Mr Bradnock called on the industry to demonstrate that there are viable, cost-effective, industry–managed alternatives to prescriptive and costly official regulation. It is important that governments are given the confidence to change and take up the offer from a responsible industry, he concluded.