Chicken Industry

UK poultry industry tells govt to buy local or risk shortages

In a plea that will resonate with South African farmers, poultry producers in Britain have called for greater government support to bolster the industry and ensure food security.

Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said the industry was shrinking because of rising input costs and the impact of avian influenza (bird flu). According to Poultry World, he urged the government to take a number of measures, including public procurement to promote British chicken for care homes, schools and hospitals.

Government buying practices were “driving British food producers out of business,” he said.

Collaboration between the government and industry should set a precedent where healthy and profitable domestic production is necessary for food security. 

“Without a fair market price that prioritises the value of supply for producers and consumers, it is only a matter of time before British poultry sees empty shelves during the ongoing cost of living crisis,” Griffiths warned.

He said it was the British government’s responsibility to ensure that the right mechanisms were in place to support business viability and to show leadership in its own buying practices so that safe, affordable and nutritious British poultry eat remains widely available and accessible.

The operating environment for British food producers was growing more hostile.

“We need measures that prioritise supply, support producers, feed the nation and ensure the marketplace respects the true cost of food. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before we see British poultry meat producers undercut by cheaper imports, shrinking domestic production and pricing consumers out of British food and the quality it represents at a time it matters most,” he said.

South African poultry producers have been warning of just those dangers for the past decade. Perhaps Britain needs a poultry master plan.