POULTRYMEAT production is expected to contract across Europe this year before rebounding in 2021, according to new analysis.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown led to a collapse in out-of-home eating that was not entirely offset by at-home consumption.
See also: Demand drops for poultry feed
As a result, a 1.6% decline in chicken meat production is forecast for 2020, the USDA’s latest GAIN report says.
“In most EU-27 countries, chicken meat slaughterhouses and processors had to switch from bulk sales to the HRI sector to sales to the retail sector for household purchases.
“Because of this switch, they had to make significant changes in the type of products available for the market, including packaging sizes and labelling on the products.”
Poland, Europe’s largest producer, accounting for about 20% of total production, was hit particularly hard by the closure of restaurants across Europe.
The country was also affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza earlier this year.
Trade demand will also be lower in 2020, though it is expected to recover next year, assuming there are no more economic lockdowns.
Thailand is now the biggest exporter of chicken to Europe, followed by Brazil and Ukraine.
The outlook for chicken is potentially more positive, however, as a cheap protein source.
Growth in chicken
Next year a return to growth is predicted, though at a slower rate than pre-coronavirus estimates. “The post-COVID-19 economic challenges throughout most of Europe will favour cheap protein sources.
“Combined with the ease of preparation of chicken meat, we project a resumption in growth in chicken meat demand and production in 2021, although at a slower growth rate than pre-COVID estimates.
“However, the short two-month production cycle of the chicken industry makes it very reactive to outside events, both on the upside and downside, making accurate forecasts difficult.”