Covid-19: Impact on the global poultry sector

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AI and Covid-19 drive Polish broiler prices to new heights

The average wholesale price of poultry in Poland jumped by 33% during the past year, reaching PLN3.99 per kg (US$ 1.02).

This is the highest level since 2014, research by the PKO BP bank showed. The average price for turkey meat climbed by 40%, reaching the highest figure ever, PLN 6.50 per kg (US$ 1.67).

Poultry meat is becoming more and more expensive in Poland, but high production costs prevent an increase in margins on farm. Photo: Hans Prinsen
Poultry meat is becoming more and more expensive in Poland, but high production costs prevent an increase in margins on farm. Photo: Hans Prinsen

The price rally appears to be even stronger at retail level. The Polish Agricultural Ministry estimated that the average price of chicken reached PLN 6.64 (US$ 1.7) per kg, 56% up compared to the same date last year. PKO BP bank forecasted that in the second half of 2021, the prices could rise another 20-25%. The main reasons behind this trend are rising feed costs, low dynamics of chicken slaughter across the EU, and the continuing avian influenza (AI) epidemic. Despite the price hike, Polish poultry farmers reportedly have seen their profitability shrinking during the past year.

Track avian influenza outbreaks worldwide 

A decline in the supply of chicks

“AI outbreaks in reproductive flocks may deepen the decline in chick supply in the second quarter of this year. The end of the pandemic helped by mass vaccination against Covid-19 means a resumption of demand for meat in the HoReCa sector, which may spur the price increase”, PKO BP bank said.

355 avian influenza outbreaks

Between November 2020 and June 2021, Poland recorded 355 AI outbreaks. The epidemic hit farms with 13.9 million birds, including 1.9 million turkeys, the PKO BP bank said. The last outbreak was registered in late June in the Masovian province at a non-commercial farm with 106 birds.

Poland is the EU’s biggest poultry exporter

Polish poultry exports drop

Polish poultry export dropped by 2.3% (11.9% in value) in the first half of 2021. Poland is the EU’s biggest poultry exporter, and foreign sales traditionally were the backbone of the country’s poultry industry. Lower demand forces companies to cut export prices, the analysts explained.

The low dynamics of exports are primarily attributed to Brexit as sales to the UK slumped by 14% compared to the same period of the previous year. However, other destinations also cut purchases. For instance, sales to Germany declined by 13% and to the Czech Republic by 17% compared to the first quarter of 2020. In almost all cases, the decrease is linked with the lower demand for poultry in the export markets, where sales are hit by the weak HoReCa segment performance due to coronavirus-related restrictions.