POLAND’S poultrymeat sector has been pushed to the brink of crisis by the coronavirus pandemic, new analysis suggests.

The closure of Western European hotels, restaurants and other caterers that rely heavily on chicken from Poland has led to an ‘unprecedented’ drop in demand.

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Between early March and late April this year farmgate prices dropped 13%, according to USDA GAIN figures.

Poland exports about half of its total poultrymeat production.

Analyst Piotr Rucinsk said avian influenza hitting the country had compounded problems, with more than 32 highly pathogenic outbreaks since 31 December last year.

A number of important export markets have closed their borders, including South Africa, China, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines.

Largest producer

Poland remains the EU’s largest poultry producer, but its chicken and turkey sectors have been severely impacted by coronavirus.

The larger poultry companies are focused on exports, in particular to the UK and Germany, and orders have dried up as demand dropped and cross-border logistical challenges emerged.

The Netherlands and Belgium are also big buyers of Polish poultry, but tend to export it outside the EU rather than consume it, and this market has also been decimated.

Export drop

According to the National Chamber of Poultry and Feed Producers (NCPFP), in March 2020, poultry meat exports declined by about 12% compared to March 2019.

Industry representatives predict that in April 2020, exports could be as much as 50% lower than April 2019.

Poland, like the UK, was expanding its production capacity at the beginning of this year. In March a record 122 million chicks were placed, meaning a glut is expected this month.

The industry is calling for government intervention.

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