ANALYSIS - The annual poultry show in Atlanta has been taking place this week, giving the opportunity to examine the current state and future trends in the US poultry industry. If the weather patterns for this year are normal, maize, soya and wheat prices are expected to fall and to become less volatile in the coming years, which is good news for poultry businesses - and not a moment too soon. Of all meats in the EU, only poultry output is forecast to increase between now and 2020, according to a new report.
The International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) has been taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, US, this week. The unusual weather patterns - which have included daytime temperatures approaching 20°C, very heavy rain showers and a series of tornadoes in the area - seem to reflect the challenging times that the poultry industry in the US and elsewhere has experienced over the last few years.
The US meat sector is being hit not only by rising prices and the effects of the recent drought, but also the effect of rising prices against flat consumer incomes.
Both the pig and cattle sectors have been hit hard over the last year and it is predicted that the cattle numbers will be down by another 1.5 per cent this year following sharp drops to record lows in 2012, John Anderson from the American Farm Bureau told an IPPE conference.
However, while the pig and cattle herd numbers have been dropping in recent years, the US farm sector has compensated to some degree by increasing in efficiency.
The major influence on the livestock sector has been the rising input costs - particularly feed prices.
And while broiler production grew over the years from the 1970 through to the early 2000s, production has flattened out in recent years.
For the poultry sector, the reason for the slowdown in production has not only been because of the higher fed costs, but also because of the slow-down in the export market to Russia, Mr Andersen said.
"Since 2007 and 2008, there has been a noticeable slow-down in the production of broilers and pigs and certainly in beef," he said. "And it is all because of higher production costs."
The risk to humans from multi-drug resistant salmonella is the same as from non-multi resistant strains and has little to do with the use of antimicrobials on the farm, according to Dr Scott Hurd from Iowa State University, speaking at another IPPE event.
He said that the risk of antibiotic resistance being passed down from the farm to humans was negligible and was no reason to stop the use of antimicrobials in the farm.
Dr Hurd said that the major problem concerning multi-drug resistant (MDR) salmonella was in the merging of "three scary features" by the media and campaigning organisations - the words resistance and salmonella and the political agenda of the organisations.
Changing geographical focus, positive prospects for poultry meat have been forecast in the EU in a new report from the European Commission.
Over the outlook period - 2012 to 2020 - poultry meat is the only meat with increased levels of production - +4.4 per cent on aggregate compared to 2011, according to the report. The drivers are higher global and domestic demand. The increasing production also reflects the capacity of poultry to adjust more rapidly to market shocks, both on the demand and the supply side.
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