THE BROILER industry is starting to get back on track after recording the highest July placings on record.

Although not a peak month compared to other times in the year, this July witnessed chick numbers which were up by 100,000 a week on the same months of both 2018 and 2019, and up by 2m a week on just five years ago.

See also: Double-digit sales growth in Cranswick’s first quarter

This revival follows a partial recovery in chick numbers in June (see chart) and should indicate that the industry is putting the setbacks of lockdown behind it.

With this upturn, total placings are now up by over 5 million overall compared with the first seven months of last year, helped by strong figures in the first quarter.

All this indicates that the sector has now had time to adjust to the altered demands of the new marketplace, with its increased emphasis on retail and a still relatively subdued foodservice sector.

This recovery has yet to show up in the figures for chicken output, which were still heading downward during July. These reflect the chick placings made at the height of the crisis in May so the coming months should see a reversal in this trend.

For the turkey industry, by contrast, it is the last two months that have been the more disappointing Day-old poult numbers dropped by half a million in June and July compared with the same two months of last year, down to 3.3m.

These months represent the first half of the seasonal placings for Christmas (see chart), focusing on the birds grown to larger sizes for catering, and are likely to reflect a lowered confidence about just how much Christmas trade there will be.

With people working from home, the downturn in office get-togethers, combined with the potential absence of the more vulnerable older age groups who might typically check in to hotels over the holiday period, are likely to have a significant impact.