In the absence of a mutual Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) agreement with our largest trading partner, Government must consider reciprocating controls on imported poultry meat from EU.

Refusal to acknowledge, let alone address, unbalanced trade requirements now the UK is a third country to the EU is increasing production costs and risking further loss of trade for the poultry meat sector. In 2021 the sector lost around £85 million* in the value of chicken meat exports to the EU compared to 2020. The continuing regulatory barriers to fair and competitive trade with our largest and most vital trading partner will only exacerbate the problem.

For example, the EU’s third-country trade requirements dictate that the meat from birds having ‘passed through’ an Avian Influenza Control Zone in secure, moving vehicles cannot then be exported to the EU. Where there are no safe alternative routes to get around AI control zones, British producers can end up trapped in restrictions that compromises their ability to keep food trade moving. These controls are not reciprocated by the UK Government on imports from the EU, so British producers face a commercial disadvantage.

These specific controls faced by UK producers do not decrease the risk of spread of bird flu, or else the EU would apply them internally,” explained BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths. “This is a case of a lack of political will from both the UK and EU to admit there is a problem. We face restrictions and EU producers do not, and the impact on British poultry producers is unfair. It is that simple. We have reached out to both parties to urge action, but politicians on both sides are ignoring the problem.”

To ease the burden of trade on British businesses, the UK Government and EU Commission must come to a mutual understanding that secures fair, reciprocated controls, particularly in the absence of an SPS Agreement under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), in which issues like this should be addressed.

BPC Chief Executive added “Government will not find a solution with its head buried in the sand, continually refusing to fix SPS barriers. We can expect a detrimental effect on the viability of British poultry businesses if quality food from healthy birds cannot be exported into the EU due to it having ‘passed through’ a control zone.

The UK Government must engage with the commercial impact of third country trade, such as the avian influenza restrictions. It should be a simple matter to roll-over previous controls until a full SPS agreement can be delivered. Failing that the UK should apply the same restrictions to poultry meat entering the UK from the EU as part of the border checks implementation on 1st July 2022.

The reality is that this is an issue beyond our control, yet our businesses are the ones suffering the consequences of the UK Government and EU Commission’s inability to come to a sensible agreement. We cannot solve the problem, and those who can, won’t.” 



*Trade: UK Chicken Meat Exports (2020 v. 2021)

Total UK chicken meat exports
  2020 2021 +/-
Value (£) 372,825,168 277,258,929 -25.7%
Volume (t) 459,393 357,670 -22.1%
UK chicken meat exports to EU members
  2020 2021  
Value (£) 275,500,673 189,839,636 -31.1%
Volume (t) 360,299 267,995 -25.6%

Source: HMRC