GERMANY - The European Poultry Club celebrated its 10th anniversary by holding the International Poultry Day in Hanover. Taking a look at its first decade, the meeting also looked ahead to 2022 and the prospects for the industry in the years to come. Senior editor, Jackie Linden, reports.
Organised by the EPC (European Poultry Club) in partnership with the ZDG (German Poultry Association) and DLG (German Agricultural Society), the International Poultry Day was held on 12 November, on the day preceding the opening of the EuroTier trade show in Hanover.
The opening addresses at the International Poultry Day made reference to the 10th anniversary of the European Poultry Club (EPC). Its President, Gerhard Wagner, explained that it was at the EuroTier show in 2002 that the organisation was founded with 15 members. Membership has now risen to 82 as the value of the exchange of ideas and networking between the poultry-producing nations has been increasingly recognised. The next meeting will be held in South Africa in 2013, the first time that continent had hosted an EPC event.
President of the Russian Poultry Union, Dr Vladimir Fisinin, presented the growth in the poultry industry in his country, which he attributed in part to the contacts established through the EPC. Output of poultry meat in the country has increased by a factor of 3.7 over the decade since 2002 and egg output has risen 14 per cent.
Dr Fisinin stressed the great range of genetic material stored in Russia for the future for all poultry species.
There has been significant expansion in turkey production, with nine new farms coming on stream.
Looking ahead to 2020, he said that the Russian focus would be on continuing to develop the poultry industry, particularly for export.
Genetic selection for future poultry production
Dr Jim McKay, Group Director Science & Technology EW-Group identified four aspects for the poultry breeding sector in the future.
Firstly, he stated, there is a commitment to continuing delivery of progress in genetics and health with investment in appropriate technologies.
On animal health, robustness and welfare, the industry can only be sustainable if the highest possible standards of health and welfare are applied, in combination with improved economic performance, he added.
Dr McKay stated that making poultry meat and eggs available to a growing human population requires continuing improvement in feed efficiency.
And finally, he said, genetic diversity is essential to deliver improvements and to respond to changing market demands.
The International Market: 2002 – 2012 - 2022
World poultry production will continue to grow over the next decade, said Dr Paul Aho, global poultry consultant, based in the US. However, this will be at a slower rate of around 0.5 per cent annually. This compares with two per cent per year in the 1990s and one per cent in the first decade of the century.
Most of the growth will be in Asia, Latin America and Africa, he predicts, as the result of growth in both the human population and the local economies.
Poultry is likely to remain competitive with beef and pork because high feed prices favour the more efficient converters of feed protein to animal protein, namely poultry meat and eggs.
On the subject of feed prices, Dr Aho considers that feed and grain prices reached their peak in 2012 and that they will fall back in the coming years to a new but high plateau. He added the caveat that this forecast depends on harvests being normal or good in the coming seasons; the drought in some parts of the US Midwest is not yet over, he said and although two consecutive drought years have been experienced before in the country, this would not be beyond the bounds of possibility.
Overview of consumer behaviour in Germany
The German market comprises 400,000 retailers and 50 million consumers every day, making retailing the country's link between farmers, producers, the food industry and consumers, according to Josef Sanktjohanser, President of HDE, the German Retail Federation.
In general, he said, the German economy is in a robust situation, with no prospect of rising unemployment. One concern is the energy price, which has risen sharply in Germany, putting downward pressure on food spending.
He stated that retailers are in strong competition with each other and as a result, they are unable to deliver the price increases wanted by farmers in the face of historically high feed prices. There is no mechanism to raise prices, he said, and anti-trust penalties would be imposed if authorities were to become aware of any collusion between retailers to fix prices. In fact, he said, grocery prices have risen over the last five years.
The internet age has had great impacts on retailing in recent years and this is likely to intensify in future, said Mr Sanktjohanser. There has been an annual increase of around 10 per cent in online sales and these are forecast to account for 20 per cent of all sales by 2025, if not sooner. Furthermore, social media are increasingly being used by consumers to share information on, among other topics, food and farming.
For retailers, he expects the current trend in vertical co-operation in the value chain to continue, a trend made necessary by the need to get away from the situation of cut-throat price competition.
In the question-and-answer session, Mr Sanktjohanser addressed the issue of the 20 per cent of consumers who say they are prepared to pay a premium for meat and eggs produced using higher welfare standards, while only a few follow this through in their purchasing choices. He said that a proliferation of labels is not the answer but rather, better co-operation between retailers and their suppliers. He cited an example from the pig industry, where market fragmentation was prevented after one retailer announced it would sell only female pigs in order to address growing pressure from various groups to end piglet castration.
In his conclusion, Cees Vermeeren, Director of the European poultry producers association, AVEC, warned that, if feed prices were to continue to rise in future and the increased costs cannot be passed on, overall poultry production would fall, threatening global food security.
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