Comment: This is our first Christmas with empty sheds for 20 years

By Charles Bourns, poultry farmer and chair, eggs & poultry working group, Copa-Cogeca

At home we are back growing the Enhanced Red Tractor Chicken. The birds are due out Christmas Eve and this will be our first Christmas empty in 20 years.

But that is besides the point, because apparently sales are going well, especially online, and having looked online this I believe is because the presentation of the product is better. In most retailers the organic and free-range are well displayed, but the rest are just lumped together and so the Enhanced Welfare chickens are left on the shelf as they tend to look expensive. Maybe someone will now do something about how the product is displayed.

Earlier this month, I attended a meeting in Brussels and it was interesting to see how our leaving their market will increase the EU’s self sufficiency in poultrymeat from 108% to 116% and on eggs by 1%. It also shows the domination of Poland in Europe and the shift in production from the northern member states to the east and south. For the first time, we had a representative from Romania at our Copa Cogeca meeting who said their industry was in real trouble due to Ukrainian imports, but their producers could not afford to stop production, so it’s a complete disaster. The other fact that was shared with the meeting was that the EU imports were down 16%; it just shows how much imported chicken the foodservice sector uses, so we have a huge potential market to go at!

Also in the EU, the reintroduction of processed animal protein (PAP) looks likely by the end of next year, with pig being allowed into poultry feed and poultry into pig feed. The drivers for this are the desire to reduce soya imports, better bird welfare, and lower use of antibiotics. This is just an example of how things are moving in our largest market and competitor and we need to make sure our government keeps up.

Avian Influenza is a real worry to me and we have really tightened up our biosecurity as we are on the flight path into Slimbridge and have geese flying over the farm most mornings on their way to a feeding ground.

I attended a Red Tractor meeting where the standards were looked at and whilst the list of new standards look alarming, they are only bringing the standards up to date with legislation. Once again it was great to hear of the positive campaign they are running to promote poultry and I ask you all to look at it and promote it. It is great to see a consumer campaign as so many in the past have been campaigns that are farmer-facing. That is why Minette Batters, in my opinion, has been so good for the NFU as she has promoted the industry to the public which is why we now have The Trade Bill.

I have been asked to remind everyone that the Fishmongers and Poulterers Institution have monies available to help people in our industry that have fallen on hard times at present most of the monies paid out go to fishermen it was a fund set up by our industry’s forefathers so please if you know of anyone who it might be able to help in these difficult times please let either myself or Paul Kelly know.

Lastly may I take this opportunity to Congratulate all the Winners of the National Egg & Poultry Awards 2020.



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