The British poultry meat industry is asking for financial support from Government to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreaks on the viability of British poultry meat businesses. The British Poultry Council is calling for financial assistance for businesses forced to cull birds so that they are not penalised for doing the right thing and can recover quickly.

British Poultry Council Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said:

“Poultry meat businesses have acted responsibly and are doing the right thing; they are voluntarily reporting any outbreaks and investing in safe solutions to keep plants operating. Our members have worked incredibly hard to consistently put food on every table throughout the pandemic.

Government support is required to ensure businesses forced to cull birds on farm are not penalised for putting the welfare of their birds and staff first. Doing the right thing cannot be seen as a consequence of COVID-19 restrictions and controls. We ask that Government offers some means of financial support/compensation for livestock that has had to be culled as a means of keeping British businesses viable. These businesses must not be penalised for doing the right thing.”

The UK rears and slaughters around 20 million birds every week (over 95% of these are chickens) with the majority being processed through a small number of large premises (each with a capacity of 2 million+ birds per week). As an efficient sector, there is very little spare capacity when a large slaughterhouse is forced to shut down. Losing a large slaughterhouse not only interrupts our national food supply, create shortages, and job losses at a time when we can least afford it, but also results in huge overhead costs for businesses and food waste on a significant scale.

Here are some key facts and figures about our sector:

• Over a billion birds are reared for meat every year in the UK. Three quarters of the billion birds come from East of England (31%), Midlands and West Midlands (27%) and East Anglia (17%). Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and South West England account for the remaining 25% of UK poultry meat production.

• Poultry meat industry’s economic contribution has increased by nearly 50 percent in the last five years with a £5.5 billion gross value-added contribution to GDP in 2018. Our member businesses in the East of England, Midlands, West Midlands and East Anglia offer £3.75 billion gross value-added contribution to GDP, while businesses in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and South West England contribute £1.25 billion GVA to GDP.

• UK poultry meat sector sustains a total of 93,900 jobs, of these, 38,500 people are employed directly. Around a third of these work in East of England, a quarter in Midlands and West Midlands, and the remaining 15,624 people work in East Anglia, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and South West England.