Cheap imports and bird flu hits UK industry

UK - At least one UK poultry processor plans to cut capacity and farmers are calling for higher payments as the industry is hit by bird flu and cheaper imports.

The spread of the virus in domestic poultry in the UK has heightened public fears about safety. Tesco, the UK's biggest retailer, has previously said its poultry sales fell five per cent when the first UK case was confirmed in the wild duck last month.

Consumption of poultry meat has dropped by more than half in some EU states, with 300,000 tonnes now in storage across the bloc, according to EU estimates.

Last week Grampian Country Food Group said it would cut production at its plant in Banff, leading to a loss of about 80 jobs, or one-third of the company's workforce.

The Grampian plant will become a portion only site, said Alasdair Cox, the company's spokesperson.

"The UK chicken industry is experiencing poor trading conditions and strong competition supplying both the retail and manufacturing market with fresh chicken," he said. "In order to sustain our business, the decision has been taken to remove the primary processing function and whole bird packing at the Banff site."

Meanwhile the UK's National Farmers Union (NFU) has called for an increase in poultry prices by about eight per cent. The NFU warns that the British chicken industry, worth £3 billion at retail, and the strongest in Europe, will not survive in the current climate.

Source: Food Production Daily
calendar icon 15 May 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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