Skip to main content

Poultry industry - where does your path lead?

The "International Poultry Day" on the day before EuroTier is usually the industry meeting place for poultry farmers and the poultry industry worldwide. Conference and evening event, open exchange, talking shop and networking in countless small and large rounds bring together the representatives of the poultry industry. Many a business relationship was established in this special atmosphere, which continues to reverberate in the following EuroTier days.

After the switch to a purely digital EuroTier at the end of 2020, it was therefore immediately clear that a cancellation of the event was out of the question: Particularly in these difficult times, it is important to maintain contacts and stay in touch with each other. Accordingly, the DLG, the Central Association of the German Poultry Industry (ZDG) and the European Poultry Club (EPC) jointly organized two theme evenings for an international audience from the poultry industry.

The first theme evening of the International Poultry Event on February 9 was themed "Poultry business- Quo vadis?". High-level personalities from top national and international poultry industry organizations were invited to assess the current state of the poultry business and provide a position statement for their respective organizations and the industry. The evening was moderated by Marie Louise Schneider, technical advisor at the ZDG.

In his welcoming speech, DLG President Hubertus Paetow noted that the poultry sector - despite all the challenges - was an exception, as it already embodied what this EuroTier wanted to convey to agriculture as a perspective for the future: the production of food in a tightly closed chain. Even though vertical integration is often criticized, it can have advantages for all parties involved, especially if the chain comes under pressure. Innovations could be introduced much more quickly and consistently than in less well-organized value chains in agriculture.

Following that Friedrich Otto Ripke, President of the Central Association of the German Poultry Industry (ZDG), positioned the poultry sector as an "industry of the future". White meat and eggs are considered healthy, and per capita consumption in Germany has doubled since 2000. The degree of self-sufficiency is less than 100% and thus implies good opportunities for global trade agreements. However, this is unacceptable, as production in Germany is carried out to the highest standards and consequently at higher costs. The standards do not only concern animal welfare (e.g. 35 kg/m² stocking density compared to 42 kg/m² according to EU law), but also emission and building laws. Furthermore, the industry is struggling with a lack of social appreciation ("factory farming"), which, together with the lack of revenue, is leading to farm closures (3-4% per year). Political support is therefore just as necessary as a broad consensus with politicians and society. With the so-called "national livestock strategy", a framework should be created in Germany that is accepted by all social groups, that creates long-term planning security and that is also linked to additional cost reimbursement for more animal welfare. This would also include an animal welfare levy on consumers.

Count Leo von Drechsel, President of the European Poultry Club and Managing Director of Wimex, stated that the current pandemics in particular posed major challenges for the industry both nationally and internationally. Although consumption of poultry products is relatively stable, sales to the food service industry, for example, have slumped, and exports have been restricted in some cases. The oversupply is leading to low prices. In addition, raw materials such as corn and soybeans have become much more expensive (prices have risen by 30-50%) and there is a political environment with constantly changing rules and restrictions. Graf von Drechsel predicted a shift in production to countries with lower standards if politicians in Germany and the EU did not agree on common minimum standards. Without agreement, he said, goals such as regionality, sustainability and animal-friendly products could not be achieved. Many farmers in Europe, however, are ready to become more modern and adopt innovations.

Robin Horel, President of the International Poultry Council (IPC) and President of the Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council (CPEPC), also noted that poultry has become the most popular meat on the world market and is unlikely to relinquish this top position any time soon. Looking to the future, Africa and Asia are the largest growth markets. However, no growth is expected for 2020 in view of the pandemic situation, as demand in catering has come to a virtual standstill and international trade has also suffered significantly. Looking at the US poultry meat market, the last ten years have seen growth in chicken meat in particular, which is also being exported strongly. In turkey meat, on the other hand, production has declined slightly, with production just about covering domestic demand. The Canadian industry is completely focused on the domestic market, but the trends are similar to those in the USA in a weakened form. Beyond all the figures, animal welfare and sustainability are important issues in the industry, but not to the same extent as in the EU. Pressure is coming mainly from NGOs, less from consumers. Overall, however, he believes the industry is very well positioned for the future.

Last but not least, Suresh Chitturi, Chairman of the International Egg Commission (IEC), made a plea for eggs as an important staple food. In 2018, he said, the average per capita consumption worldwide was 165 eggs. The IEC's mission, he said, is to increase per capita consumption to 365 eggs. Eggs are the second best natural food of all - right after breast milk - and just one egg a day can effectively combat malnutrition, he said. The second important issue is sustainability. The egg industry has been able to reduce its resource consumption by 60-70% over the past 35 years, but there is still potential. The IEC had therefore set up two task forces, one on nutrient supply and one on sustainability, to make further progress on both issues.

The second theme evening of the International Poultry Event followed on February 11. Four international market participants focused on the current pandemics and highlighted the accompanying changes in world trade and poultry markets. Questions from the audience, for example on the importance of sustainability in the international context and the European Green Deal, were not left unanswered.

A total of 350 participants listened to the exciting presentations of the top-class guests at the two poultry events. The recordings can be viewed on the EuroTier digital platform until April 15, theme evening 1 at and theme evening 2 at