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Optimism for Welsh poultry sector

A message of great optimism for the poultry sector was conveyed to NFU Cymru members at the annual Poultry Conference held recently at the Union's headquarters in Builth Wells, Wales.

Farmers involved in the poultry sector were invited to listen to Julian Madeley, DG of the International Egg Commission; Dave Cook, Director of Poultry Marketing, Vion; Kelly Watson, NFU Poultry Adviser and Professor Jamie Newbold, IBERS.

Those present heard that in terms of the global market, there is evidence that egg production is shifting to countries where costs of feed, labour and regulation are significantly lower. However, as the UK prides itself on high levels of animal health, welfare and husbandry it is envisaged that the egg market will remain buoyant in the future, says an NFU news release.

As the UK is in preparation for the cage ban on 1 January 2012, members present raised concerns that there will be potential for the importation of cheaper eggs from countries that are not subject to the cage ban restrictions.

Julian Madeley, Director of the International Egg Commission: “The UK egg industry has the advantage of having a very large free-range egg sector and a highly respected quality assurance scheme, both of which provide a level of protection to the domestic market. This offers a positive future for the UK egg market when combined with the industry’s commitment to animal health and welfare.”

Research carried out on behalf of UK poultry farmers has also indicated that there has been strong growth in the free-range egg and chicken markets in 2009.

Speaking about the broiler sector, Dave Cook, Director of Marketing within the poultry division of Vion said, “In general, Vion research shows that shoppers are investing more time and effort in preparing meals, with more consumers cooking meals at home and preparing lunches at home for school and work. What is also interesting is that consumer interest in animal welfare has continued to grow during the recession. Therefore there is a positive outlook for the UK – we believe demand for British chicken will remain buoyant and that welfare standards will be key in consumer choice.”

Tony Burgess, NFU Cymru Poultry Group Chairman concluded, “All in all the future for eggs and white meat in Wales is looking good and assured. We do, however, need to ensure that future food labelling is clear for consumers to be able to understand and identify home produced food from imported.”

Natalie Berkhout

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