Covid-19: Impact on the global poultry sector

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EU poultry production set to rise but faces challenges from Covid-19 and bird flu

Poultry production in the EU is expected to grow, albeit at a moderate pace, this year. The European Commission expects growth to be 1.2% higher than last year with consumers replacing more expensive meats with poultry.

While this is lower than the 1.6% rise in 2019, it still represents a decent return despite the closing of foodservice operations because of coronavirus which will impact varieties more difficult to sell, such as ducks, guinea fowl, pigeons and quail. In the UK, Avara Foods has proposed the closure of its duck business, Cherry Valley Foods in Lincolnshire, amid a collapse in the foodservice and restaurant business. In a statement, Avara said: “… Externa market conditions have become increasingly challenging with feed costs, feather pricing and European competition all combining to put the business under immense pressure.”

Broiler prices have been on a rollercoaster ride, but overall consumption is expected to grow. Photo: Hissink photography
Broiler prices have been on a rollercoaster ride, but overall consumption is expected to grow. Photo: Hissink photography

The Covid-19 outbreak initially pushed broiler prices up due to stock-piling but over the past few weeks they have fallen back to below the 5 year average. However, there are signs that per capital consumption of poultry meat will continue its rise this year, according to the Outlook report, climbing to 23.6kg/person (+0.2kg).

Poultry production could be challenged by Covid-19, both from a logistical and demand perspective,” – Bethan Wilkins, senior analyst at the UK’s Agriculture Horticulture Development Board

Poultry imports and exports

EU poultry imports grew moderately by 1.8% last year but due to Covid-19 and its effect on food service businesses imports are likely to fall slightly in 2020. Poultry exports from the EU grew by 6.7% last year thanks to strong global demand. Shipments increased to most of the main destinations, particularly to South Africa (+62%), the Philippines (+40%), Vietnam (+34%) and China. Exports are likely to keep growing while demand remains high but at a more moderate pace as bird flu outbreaks in a few of the main EU producers (Poland) have resulted in country bans by some trade partners. This will put some pressure on EU exports and will probably result in a switch of trade flows.

Commenting on the report, Bethan Wilkins, senior analyst at the UK’s Agriculture Horticulture Development Board, said poultry and pig production would be the main contributors to the overall rise in EU meat production this year. Ms Wilkins said the rise in the 2 sectors would be partially offset by a decline in beef/veal and sheep meat, but that the outlook was uncertain. “Poultry production could be challenged by Covid-19, both from a logistical and demand perspective,” she added.

Covid-19 Up-date
What impact is the pandemic having on the global poultry sector and how are they dealing with it.