Members of the European poultry meat sector have agreed to establish a Sustainability Charter by the beginning of 2022.
The move, agreed to at the annual European Poultry Meat Association (AVEC) general assembly, comes against the backdrop of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, in which the 27 EU member states have committed to turn the EU into the first climate neutral continent by 2050.
Known as the Berlin Declaration, the Charter will aim to find the best balance between the 3 pillars of sustainability – environment, social and economic. All stakeholders in the production chain, including poultry meat breeding companies, farmers, food processors, academics and scientists, will contribute to the Charter.
AVEC said the poultry meat sector was a strategic asset in the EU food system with a total production value of € 38 billion and exports worth € 2 billion per year. It employed 370,000 people and there were 25,000 family farms rearing birds to high standards.
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“In Europe, conventional poultry meat production represents 80% of the market. Using highly efficient production processes, only a minimum amount of natural resources are necessary to generate a highly valuable protein source for the human diet. Implementing higher welfare standards for our animals is part of our DNA and we are proud to be leading the world in this matter. Crucial for both, animal welfare and the high product quality is the extensive expertise of our highly qualified professionals that often bring many years of experience into our sector,” it said in a statement.
AVEC is keen to see a fair transition towards more sustainable European poultry meat production, but said it was necessary for EU authorities to guarantee and enforce a level playing field with international trade partners with identical rules for imported poultry meat.
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Birthe Steenberg, AVEC secretary general, said: “The level of commitment of the EU poultry meat sector is highly dependent on the willingness and capacity of the EU Commission to defend the sector from unfair competition from third countries. It is of huge importance that the efforts implemented in the EU poultry meat sector – which will raise production costs – are not met with a counter effect of larger imports from third countries. We produce meat in a very climate smart way in Europe – so importing more meat from third countries will in the end lead to higher GHG emissions globally.”