Imports of poultry meat rose last year, and exports decreased as home production again failed to keep up with demand.

According to Defra figures for the entire year, UK consumption of all forms of poultrymeat rose for the fourth year running, after taking a dip in 2020, adding another 44,000 tonnes (carcase weight).

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This took the total to 2.40 million tonnes, an all-time high. Over the past ten years as a whole, consumption (measured as supplies reaching the market) has risen steadily by nearly a third (31%).

Meanwhile UK poultry output, beset by rising costs and delays to planning permission, fell by 16,000 tonnes last year to 1.97 mt. This is the lowest annual total since 2019.

As a result, the gap between output and demand was the largest ever, at 430,000 tonnes, and was 60,000 tonnes greater than in 2022.

Rise in imports

The extra shortfall was bridged by a slight rise in imports and a more substantial fall in exports. Imports increased by 11,000 tonnes to 626,000 tonnes; and exports dropped 49,000 tonnes to 197,000 tonnes.

During the past four years, the gap between output and consumption has risen from just 24,000 tonnes in 2020 to 151,000 tonnes in 2021 and then 370,000 tonnes in 2022.

Imports in 2023 accounted for around 26% of net consumption.