POULTRYMEAT consumption was up again during the third quarter of 2023, completing nine months of rising demand for poultry in the UK.

Compared with the same quarter of 2022, consumption was up by 4.1 per cent in the Jul-Sep period, according to the latest figures from Defra.

See also: Poultry Network’s 2023 in review

This followed a 3.7% increase in consumption in the first quarter, and a 1.1% rise in the second.

Consumption is measured as total supplies of poultry onto the market (production plus net imports, in carcase weight equivalent).

One important difference in this latest quarter was a significant year-on-year rise in UK poultrymeat production, whereas during the first half of the year, the UK poultry sector had suffered a setback.

Total production

Total production during the Jan-Jun period had declined relative to 2022, and the higher consumption in the first half of 2023 was only achieved through a rise in net imports.

In the latest quarter, a sudden rally in home production meant it became the main contributor to the rise in consumption, with output up by 14,000t and net imports by 9,600t.

Taking the year to date, total consumption came to 1.8m tonnes (Jan-Sep), an overall increase of 51,900 tonnes.

Within this, total production fell by 12,500 t while net imports rose by 64,400t.

Worsening trade balance

It has been a similar pattern over the last few years, where the long-term rise in consumption has been mainly supported by a worsening trade balance rather than a rise in domestic output.

In the three years since 2020, consumption during the January-September period has increased overall by 301,000 tonnes, or 20%.

Over the same time span, total production had dropped by 19,000 tonnes, and net imports increased by 320,000 tonnes.

In percentage terms, the rise in net imports has been striking, with these increasing by 67-fold between 2020 and 2023, from 4,800 to 325,000 tonnes.

It will be March before the full-year figures for 2023 are available from Defra, but the trend of increasing consumption looks firmly established for 2023 as a whole.