Retailers and farmer’s unions in the UK and beyond have been battling to ensure that egg and poultry meat supply chains remain robust in the light of unprecedented demand in recent weeks.
Latest figures suggest demand for eggs from UK consumers is up by 30% while poultry meat has risen by 25%.
Thomas Wornham, National Farmers’ Union poultry board chairman, that while supply chains had held up, there had been disruption which had meant opportunity for some and detriment to others. Mr Wornham said the NFU had been working around the clock to ensure impacts had been minimised in the poultry sector, linking businesses together in the heat of the crisis and working with Defra to re-plumb supply chains to keep them moving.
Concerns grow over US involvement in UK poultry industry
Research showing that half of the UK’s chickens are now being produced either fully or partly by companies controlled by US agribusinesses has prompted concerns about US influence in the British food sector.
While praising the retail sector, there had been sporadic examples of imported products on shelves: “This is incredibly frustrating and something I believe the consumer doesn’t want to see. Whether that is Polish chicken or Dutch eggs, we are challenging these instances directly with the retailer, taking due account of availability and ensuring British and our production values are sought first.”
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Lidl came under pressure earlier this month for stocking Dutch eggs alongside British eggs in some of its stores. It prompted Robert Gooch, British Free Range Egg Producers Association chief executive, to say that the British Lion scheme had been a real success over the past 30 years. “It’s extremely rare for imported eggs from any production system to be stocked in these stores. We would hope that all retailers would stock British eggs wherever possible.”