In 2014, the U.K. poultry industry produced 1.384 million tons of broiler chicken meat, down slightly on 2013’s 1.388 million tons. Total poultry production was also down slightly, however the British Poultry Council (BPC) notes that, over the past three years, the annual weight of poultry meat produced in the country has stabilized at around 1.6 million tons.
Chicken dominates U.K. poultry industry’s production, accounting for 92 percent of total poultry production in 2014. Turkey and duck production accounted for 3 percent and 2 percent of production, respectively.
While 2014 may have been broadly stable for the broiler sector, the same cannot be said for the U.K.’s turkey producers. At 173,000 tons, U.K. turkey meat production declined by almost 8 percent last year, back to levels last seen in 2009 and at almost half the level of 2000.
The U.K. is thought to be the European Union’s third-largest poultry meat producer, behind Poland and with a similar volume of output to that of second-ranked France. It now accounts for approximately 14 percent of the European Union’s poultry meat output. However, where broiler meat production is concerned, the U.K. is thought to rank second.
In 2013, the most recent year for which complete sales data is available, the U.K. poultry industry generated sales of GBP6.9 billion (US$10.6 billion). Around two-thirds of this income came from the poultry processing sector, with the remainder coming from poultry farming.
UK poultry consumption
Poultry meat now accounts for 47 percent by weight of all meats purchased in the U.K. Chicken meat dominates, accounting for 91 percent of total consumption last year, and up by 1 percent on 2013.
The British Poultry Council notes that poultry meat continues to become cheaper relative to other foods.
It explains that, between 2000 and 2014, the average annual rate of increase in the cost of chicken at retail level stood at 2.1 percent. This compares with an inflation rate of 3.6 percent per annum for food overall during the period. The BPC notes that, while poultry prices have risen by 13 percent since the start of the recession, those for beef and lamb are 35 and 42 percent higher, respectively.
U.K. consumption of poultry meat continues to grow, and in response to this rising demand, the number of chickens reared for meat production has also been rising. In 2000, the national flock stood at a little over 760 million head. By last year, this had risen to 900 million.
UK poultry imports and exports
The U.K.’s poultry meat exports were valued at GBP305 million in 2014, with 69 percent going to other European Union member states. Exports rose by 120 percent between 2000 and 2014. The main destinations for U.K. fresh and frozen poultry meat exports last year were the Netherlands, Ireland and South Africa. Seventy-five percent of export earnings came from frozen meat. Ireland the Netherlands are also important destinations for the U.K. exports of processed poultry meat.
The U.K. is not self-sufficient in poultry meat and, while exports have been growing, imports have also been rising by an annual average rate of 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2013. Twenty-six percent of the fresh and frozen poultry meat consumed in the U.K. is imported, and almost one-third of this comes from the Netherlands. Poland and Ireland are also important suppliers for fresh and frozen meat. Fresh and frozen imports were valued at GBP1.1 billion in 2014. The UK’s imports of processed poultry have been rising considerably over the past five years, with Thailand and Brazil being the main suppliers.
The British Poultry Council believes there are significant opportunities for U.K. chicken producers in the home and international markets.