By Kerry Maxwell, communications manager, British Poultry Council
Long-standing Government inability to prioritise and facilitate routes for investment in domestic production means that, even following this week’s announcement that inflation is slowing down, increasing interest rates, shrinking margins and the cost of debt continue to threaten the investment needed by poultry meat businesses to ensure BPC members can play their part in a highly productive, low impact food system.
Safe, affordable, nutritious poultry is half the meat the nation eats but the scars of an ongoing cost of production crisis where higher costs are now baked into all areas of the supply chain means that 9 million people are skipping meals or cutting back every day. Economic confidence is directly linked to industrial investment. The issue is that whilst investment in the long-term will move us past political and regulatory uncertainty, it is this very uncertainty that is limiting investment in long-term plans. Economic security is crucial for our unsubsidised industry, particularly if the vision for our food system is rooted in self-sufficiency.
Producers want to seize opportunities to invest in their own supply chains and preserve the viability of the industry feeding the nation. That requires consistent, sufficient resource in relation to the immediate costs and burdens of an altered economic and regulatory environment, but also a security net that gives businesses the tools – not least the confidence – to drive productivity themselves. Government-backed loans and access to inclusive schemes and programmes that integrate businesses into local economies and embed them further into local communities, not least catalysing industry’s contribution towards self-sufficiency targets.
Understanding of the dimensions, risks and opportunities within economic security is essential to the productivity of businesses feeding the nation. Prioritising an environment that lets BPC members thrive – not just survive – builds on countless Government commitments to domestic production, where we are able to secure the long-term viability of our supply chains by navigating hurdles and seeking progress where it is most needed.
The best action we can take is to create an economic environment that is rooted in innovation, agility and foresight, that unlocks investment in service of setting out a vision for a sustainable food system that feeds people, tackles inequalities with quality and affordable food, and contributes to a liveable climate for all. It is critical that poultry meat businesses are given the certainty and confidence to increase investment and capacity. Government – current or future – must engage with industry to identify what changes are needed and how these can be delivered in a way to shape a prosperous future for national poultry meat supply chains.