European Turkey Industry in Difficulties, Says AVEC

The 2008 Annual Report from AVEC, the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU Countries, includes an overview of the turkey industry. Welfare and the reduction in Salmonella contamination are seen as particularly difficult issues for the future of the sector.
calendar icon 30 January 2009
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The European turkey producers are in a difficult situation: on the one side, they are under pressure from the retailers who want to increase their margins and on the other side, they are faced with the imports supplying the processing industry. In this very competitive environment, European production in 2007 was 1.848 million tonnes (EU-25), representing a decrease from 2006 of 2.5 per cent.

After strong restructuring in 2006 (-4.1 per cent in EU-15), there was no recovery in 2007 as new decreases are noted everywhere with the exception of Germany retaining its 2006 level. Poland maintains its positive development within the EU and further develops its production especially for other European markets.

High prices for agricultural products especially soybean make the European turkey sector even more vulnerable because of the turkeys' feed conversion rate. The perspectives for the turkey are especially more difficult as the pork meat sector has not compensated the costs of production to the retailers because the markets have been unbalanced.

It is also important to mention that sales of fresh products are decreasing and sales of processed products increase. The changed consumer behaviour favours imported meat from third countries where exporters profit from quotas with reduced tariffs.

The world turkey consumption has remained stable at an estimated 2 million tonnes. Germany has passed France with a per-capita consumption of 6.5 kg to France's 6.2 kg whereas the Italians consume 5.1 kg. Consumers buy mainly fresh or prepared products.

Targets for the Prevalence of Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium

Regulation (EC) No. 584/2008 of 20 June 2008 sets the community targets for the reduction of the prevalence of Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium in turkeys. The percentage of flocks of turkeys for fattening positive with the two serotypes must be reduced to a number of less than or equal to one per cent before 31 December 2012.

Such a reduction is important since the strict measures that concern fresh meat from infected turkeys from 12 December 2010 also must comply with the rules of Regulation (EC) 2160/2003 that is – fresh meat from poultry including turkeys cannot be marketed for human consumption if the meat does not meet the criterion for 'absence of Salmonella in 25 g'.

The European producers must carefully watch the feasibility of this community target, taking into consideration the recently published results of an EFSA survey on the prevalence of Salmonella in flocks of turkey in 2006/2007. It is difficult to establish such strict criteria for the marketing of meat before it has been possible to evaluate the progress reached within the transitional period to 31 December 2012.

Turkey Welfare

The working group on the welfare of turkeys has adopted the research programme on 18 June 2008. The aim of the project is to improve the competitive position of the European turkey producers by investigating the development and causative factors of foot pad dermatitis (FPD) in turkey and consequences on health, welfare and performance under experimental and field conditions. First, a uniform methodology for scoring the lesions discovered has to be established then the risk factors and the corrective measures must be developed. The main outcome will be to find techniques to improve the litter quality of the birds through their lifetime.

A multi-disciplinary approach to study the problems has been established with experimental and field conditions. Six research institutes participate in the study initiated by professionals from five avec member countries.

If the financial conditions are approved, the study will run over 36 months from 2010. The study will be funded 70 per cent by the EU and with 30 per cent from professionals.

Further Reading

- You can view the full 2008 Annual Report from AVEC by clicking here.

January 2009
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