March 15, 2021

The United States Department of Agriculture has reported that chicken meat production in the EU-27+UK is forecast to increase by 1.4% in 2021.

This increase follows a 1.5% decline in 2020, a direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with total or partial lockdowns in most EU-27+UK countries including hotels, restaurants, and institution (HRI) closures. 

Polish production declined the most within the EU-27+UK as its industry is focused on exporting chicken meat cuts to the EU HRI sector.

Spanish production also declined as a consequence of the closure of the hospitality and tourism industries. Chicken meat production in the Netherlands also declined although their lockdown was not as strict as in other EU-27 MS such as France, Spain, and Italy. 

The sector suffered from the drop in demand from the UK and other markets and increasing competition from Poland. Third-country imports to the Netherlands stayed fairly constant as traders wanted to maintain their licensed volume.

After a 3% decline in 2020, production growth is forecast to increase again in 2021. However, the increase will be limited by the availability of animal production licenses based on the volume of phosphate produced by the birds. 

The increase in retail sales also led to higher sales and production of chicken meat produced under certain quality schemes such as organic and free range as consumers are more sensitive to these labels in retail markets.

Temporary closure of slaughter facilities in several countries such as Netherlands, Germany and UK due to COVID-19 cases did not significantly impact the total production as the lost weeks of production were compensated by higher slaughter rates the following weeks and uptakes in other establishments.

HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) outbreaks in late 2020 and early 2021 are not anticipated to negatively directly impact the EU chicken meat production in 2021, with the exception of Germany where HPAI mitigation includes extended strict sanitary measures in affected districts.

However, the closure of some export markets such as South Africa for HPAI Member States may lead chicken meat producers to reduce the installment of new chicks grown for exports.

In most EU-27+UK countries, such as Spain, Germany and France, governments reinforced surveillance and biosecurity measures on poultry farms including temporarily prohibiting free-range farms.

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