Leading catering butcher warns of shortage of imported poultry

Avian influenza outbreaks in Poland and across Europe are affecting supplies of poultry into the UK, one of the largest catering butchers in the UK has warned.

Birtwistles, which supplies meat and poultry across the country, has told its customers there is a shortage of poultrymeat likely to last several months.

In a letter to customers, managing director Glenn Eastwood said there were several reasons for the shortage, including an outbreak of AI in Poland in April that led to the cull of 20 million chickens in one week alone, reducing the available volume of poultry for import.

Feed costs have risen, meaning producers are keeping birds on longer in order to finishing them larger. This has led to “extreme pressure on the smaller size fillets” said Eastwood, and limited availability.  

In addition, the easing of COVID regulations with the outside dining has “put demands on what were already very tight markets for poultry and pork, driven by reduced menus centred around poultry. This will be further compounded once the next easing on the 17 May for inside dining opens.”

Eastwood said he expected the impact to last between 10-12 weeks, and requested as much lead time as possible on poultry orders.

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