In Marseille, France, the 57th assembly of AVEC, which represents the poultry meat industry in the EU, was held from October 2-5.
French members FIA and CIDEF co-hosted the assembly, which attracted around 160 delegates from all across the member states. During the 3 day event, together they discussed this year’s theme “Keeping poultry business profitable with European Standards”.
AVEC delegates represent the entire poultry chain (breeders, hatcheries, slaughterhouses). In his opening address, outgoing President of the association, Federico Felix from Spain, highlighted the challenges of the EU poultry sector in past year and at the present. Particularly trade matters with non-EU countries and competitiveness on the global poultry market will stay highly on the agenda. “The question is indeed how to stay profitable in a globalized context,” Felix stated.
But steps are being taken in this context. One important issue will be to provide consumers information on the origin of poultry meat. A first step has been made with the labelling of fresh poultry meat that will be effective on the 1st of April 2015. The next challenge for the industry will be to implement an effective and efficient system to inform consumers on the origin of the meat in composite products when poultry meat is used in further processed products or as an ingredient.
Koen Van Dyck, Head of the Unit “Food Alert System and Training” in DG Health and Consumers in the European Commission outlined the image and perception of poultry meat in the EU and presented the current and upcoming legislative work of DG SANCO on the origin of labelling, veterinary medicines, feed, animal welfare and food hygiene. He highlighted the free-trade agreements with a special focus on the SPS issues in TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) repeating that EU standards for the food chain are ensuring the right level of protection.
Jean-Jacques Vandenheede, current director of retail insights for AC Nielsen Europe, examined food and consumer trends in meat consumption in the retail business. He presented the structure of the retail market in the different countries of the EU and explained how consumer perceptions can widely differ from the reality on the field, taking as an example the overestimated importance of e-commerce in the EU. He emphasised to the audience that “you are the creator of your own destiny”.
Willy Brette, vice-president of purchase, quality and logistics for France and southern Europe, and Keith Kenny, head of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, spoke about sustainability and the sourcing of sustainable chicken at McDonalds Europe. They focused on the sourcing strategy of McDonalds for poultry meat products and on the overall strategy of the company towards sustainability in the EU. Transparency, long term engagement, dedication and a stable and visionary partner are essential for Mc Donald’s. This is based on the three E’s in Mc Donald’s STEP program: Economics, Environment and Ethics. McDonalds is dedicated to implement this strategy in the nearby future.
Peter van Horne of the agricultural economics unit (LEI) of Wageningen University visualised the competitiveness of the EU poultry meat sector, based on production costs in- and outside the EU. The statistics he showed, made clear that the challenge is to keep the balance between free and fair-trade.
Paul van Boekholt, Business Director of Hubbard, expressed his views about the differentiation on the broiler market in Europe and drew attention to consumer wishes. “These will drive the diversity of the EU production with a move towards more slow growing breeds”, he stated.
Newly elected Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jean Arthuis, addressed the participants with his view on the future of the European Union. He called for harmonisation of the rules within the EU that maybe should prevail above further opening the European market by trade agreements.
During the assembly, changes in the AVEC organisation were also announced. After having served as president for two years, Federico Felix of Spanish association PROPOLLO, handed over presidency to Paul Lopez, board member of the French association FIA.
Lopez (57), who originates from Brittany, the main poultry producing region in France, has served AVEC for four years already as a vice-president. He has been managing director of companies within the Glon Group (chicken, turkey spent hens) since 1990.
Lopez stated that his mission will be to promote, develop and defend the production and processing of poultry in the EU with the ambition to maintain the confidence and preference of European consumers. Based on the achievements that have already been made in the past, he will defend and make sure that the voice of AVEC will be heard in the EU institutions in Brussels.
In his new role, Lopez will be assisted by a largely renewed team of vice-presidents, coming from four other Member States:
Paul-Heinz Wesjohann, of the Paul-Heinz Wesjohann Group in Germany, will continue as vice-president. Besides hi m, three new vice-presidents have been appointed during the General Assembly. These are Piotr Kulikowski, President of the Board of Indykpol, Poland , Javier Rodriguez, Director General of Grupo SADA from Spain and Philip Wilkinson, Executive Director in the 2 Sisters Food Group from the United Kingdom.
For both Jan Odink from the Netherlands and Bruno Veronesi from Italy, their term as vice-president of AVEC has ended.
The next AVEC assembly will take place in October 2015 in Swedish capital Stockholm.