The EU’s poultry industry has warned that Europe is facing a period of uncertainty and that its greatest challenge is to manage change in combination with sustainable production, profitability, and growth.
“The EU has to assess its opportunities and must continue to invest for the strong growth we need for a healthy future, with our poultry sector being one of these opportunities,” states AVEC (the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU Countries) in its 2016 annual report, which is published today.
“European poultry production has demonstrated its focus on quality, food safety and sustainability, to answer to demands from society and consumers. The confidence of European consumers in poultry meat from the EU is crucial.
“Consumer trust may be undermined, however, by doubts about imported poultry meat and its compliance with European standards. As such, the EU has a responsibility towards consumers and producers, and must create a fair competitive situation for European poultry meat by imposing identical, and not just equivalent, rules on imports.”
Pointing out that the EU is already open for imports which are higher in value than exports by €200 million (£174m), AVEC adds that it wants to say “it is enough”, going on to highlight international threats from competitors in the USA, Mercosur, China, Ukraine and Russia.
In addition, with total meat consumption in the EU remaining almost static, AVEC states that for success tomorrow, the poultry industry needs to invest today.
The annual report also comments on the global battle against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), adding: “In a moment of strongly politicised social and scientific debate on AMR, the European poultry sector is proud of the efforts and results that have been achieved in the last few years.
“The reduction in use of antibiotics shows that poultry producers are using antibiotics in a prudent way. This is also thanks to partners in the poultry production chain taking responsibility in relation to the ‘one health’ approach and their focus on the principle that ‘prevention is better than cure’.
“However, AVEC members have also learnt that animals need to be treated when they are sick to guarantee their level of welfare. The ‘one health’ policy approach is therefore essential to reduce and control AMR in both humans and animals.”
Avian Influenza (AI) is also mentioned, of course, with AVEC stating that, looking at the disease situation of poultry in the EU, it is obvious that AI is here to stay.
“So far in 2016, outbreaks of HPAI have been limited to France and Italy while LPAI has been detected in UK, the Netherlands and Denmark,” it states. “This shows that EU producers and their partners in the supply chain, guided by risk management measures, have to continuously improve biosecurity.”
Finally, AVEC declares its commitment to do its “utmost” to ensure that the interests of EU poultry meat producers are defended and promoted towards European institutions, to secure the long-term development of the sector and establish a fair and level playing field in both internal and external markets.
It also pledges to keep working to maintain consumer confidence in EU poultry meat production.