Avian influenza leads to decline in poultry meat production across EU

EU poultry meat production is expected to decrease slightly in 2021 (-0.9%), according to the latest short-term outlook covering summer 2021 published by the European Commission, based on the latest data.

Avian influenza (AI) has had a big impact on the industry this year, and outbreaks hitting 18 countries are continuing to hinder production in major producing countries, notably Poland, the largest EU poultry producer.” While the overall production impact in terms of birds culled remains limited, the epizootic affected also breeder farms, making production recovery challenging,” the report states.

AI-related bans restrict exports of poultry meat, led the EU poultry industry to cut production in the first quarter of 2021 (-4.4% year-on-year). While domestic demand for EU poultry is expected to increase in line with the reopening of the foodservice sector. Frozen stocks which built up during 2020 when the foodservice market was closed should partly satisfy that extra demand. 

Prices for EU broilers prices reached exceptionally high levels in the second quarter of 2021, up 8% on the five year average, reaching more than EUR 200/100 kg early June. Despite high prices, producers are under pressure, with feed costs rising even quicker, the report states. 

EU poultry meat imports are expected to remain stable in 2021. In 2020, they fell sharply with imports from Ukraine constrained by AI-related restrictions. EU poultry meat exports are expected to continue decreasing in 2021 (-5%), the report states. Although seasonal AI is fading, associated export restrictions are still in place and will be lifted only gradually. 

Brexit also affected trade with UK imports of EU poultry meat down by -29% in Q1 2021 despite border checks not yet being enforced. Poultry meat crossing the other way, from the UK to the EU have been subject to full SPS checks since January, and this led to a fall in trade of -40% in the first quarter of 2021. 

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