The NFU has written to Farmers Guardian after they published an article detailing the rise in demand for poultry meat during the lockdown. Retail sales were up 27% on last year, with a 35% increase in breast, leg and wing demand. They also reported that there has been a small increase in poultry production this year.
In the letter, NFU poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham writes:
While your article ‘Shoppers value poultry during lockdown’, correctly highlighted a soaring retail demand for chicken, it failed to recognise the significant impact on many poultry producers from the closure of the food service sector and the collapse in wholesale demand due to COVID-19. This has led to a net reduction in demand for poultry meat and the sector has been forced to reduce the number of chicks placed on farms by 15%, equating to 3 million fewer birds per week.
And we are not the only country facing these difficulties. As normality begins to slowly resume, it is vital the UK does not become a dumping ground for poultry products produced in other countries operating to lower standards than those expected of British farmers.
We work to deliver world-leading poultry and any short-term opportunism to take advantage of readily available poultry products from overseas will have long-lasting detrimental consequences for the entire British poultry industry; a point we have raised with Defra as both the Agriculture Bill and Trade Bill make their passage through Parliament.
My hope is for the UK government to put in place legislative measures that prevent British food from being undermined by imports produced to lower standards and for the supply chain and food service to support British farmers by backing and choosing British as a priority.
NFU poultry board chairman
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