THE POULTRYMEAT sector was still feeling the lingering effects of the lockdown in the first quarter of this year.

Newly released figures reveal total poultrymeat output was down by nearly 50,000 tonnes to 452,000t in the Jan-Mar period, a drop of almost 10% compared with the year before.

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All sectors of the poultry trade were affected, with the turkey sector hit the hardest. The output of turkey meat was down by 30,000t on the first quarter of 2020.

Broiler production was down 12,600t, duckmeat down 2,700t, and old hens by 1,700t.

The figure for turkeys is potentially misleading, though, since last year, as in many previous years, Defra did not record the high level of Christmas production until January.

However, this year, January was recorded as a relatively low figure while December 2020 was as much higher.

Instead, if the two months are combined, the Dec ’20/Jan ’21 total was still more than 10,000t lower than a year earlier, at 28,650t vs 41,400t.

For broiler meat, the picture is also distorted by an exceptionally high output in the first quarter of 2020.

Comparing this year’s total with the year before shows a 6,000t increase on the same three months of 2019.

March was a solid month for the broiler sector, with output at its highest level since October.

Poultry placings were also showing a positive trend in the first quarter.

Total broiler chicks increased by seven million on last year, and by 16.6m on 2019.

Turkey poult placings were up by 135,000 year-on-year in the first three months.