Poultrymeat production could grow 2.5% this year, according to the latest EU Commission forecast.

The projection is lower than last year’s total growth, which neared 5%.

EU poultrymeat production grew by 2% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, with the strongest growth once again in eastern EU nations.

Broiler prices at the beginning of 2019 were below the five-year average, but from April they have been “substantially” higher.

Consumer consumption is expected to continue to rise, by around 0.6kg/capita to 25.4kg.

And if high pigmeat prices lift the cost of pork on supermarket shelves, shoppers will switch to poultry, it suggests.

There was strong EU export performance in the first four months, translating to a 13% rise year-on-year.

Around 40% of the growth was down to increasing shipments to South Africa, despite the safeguard measure in place in the form of a $35/t duty on bone-in cuts. However, these shipments are still well down on record 2016 exports.

Exports to the two main destinations for EU poultry also grew significantly – Ghana saw a 12% rise and now takes an 11% share of the total EU export market, while there was a 16% rise in exports to the Philippines (10% share).

Given African Swine Fever in China, exports have also risen there by 2%; Poland is the only EU country with market access, which was gained in November 2018. For the full year, EU poultry exports are anticipated to grow by 3%.

Imports also grew strongly in the first four months (+14%), driven by rising shipments from the 2 main EU partners – Thailand (+11%) and Brazil (+23%).

Imports from Brazil are still well below 2017 levels due to sanitary restrictions in place. However, its exports of frozen poultry are rising, sometimes beyond existing quotas, thanks to high EU breastmeat prices.