This year has got off to a slow start for the poultrymeat sector, with both broiler and turkey placings lower than in the same month a year ago.

Weekly broiler numbers and turkey numbers were both down by a similar amount.

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Average placings in January were down by 71,000 a week for broilers and by 74,000 a week for turkeys, compared with January 2023.

In percentage terms, however, there was a big difference. Broiler chicks were fractionally lower, by just a third of a per cent; whereas poult numbers fell by more than 36% on their levels of last January.

Another difference is that the marginal fall in broiler placings comes on top of an equally marginal increase of 0.2% for 2023 overall.

Turkey sector

In contrast, the turkey sector’s sizeable drop this January comes after a 22% fall for the whole of last year.

The pattern of turkey placings over the past couple of years (see chart) suggests that if you strip away the more resilient seasonal turkey placings during the summer for Christmas, it leaves the fall in the year-round industry even more significant.

 

This sector is close to being down by a third when averaged across the past year.

Production figures

Defra has stopped publishing turkeymeat production figures for the UK sector as it grows ever smaller, but there is no sign that liveweights have risen to compensate for the fewer birds.

Turkey output can be approximated from the overall figures for poultrymeat production.

It seems likely that turkey output has steadily fallen from a figure of 156,000 tonnes in 2020, by around 31,000t in 2021, followed by 12,000t in 2022 and a further 20,000t last year. This amounts to a drop in production of some 40% in three years.

Meanwhile, average broiler liveweights were a little lighter last year, dropping by 18g to 2,328g.

However, broiler liveweights have been running consistently higher than normal over the past two years. During the preceding 20 years, broiler weights ranged from 2165 to 2280g, with the average at 2220g.