THE UK’S poultrymeat sector struggled to maintain its momentum last year, as output dipped across all categories.

Total production of all poultrymeat fell by 51,000 tonnes during the year as a whole, compared with 2021, amounting to a decline of 2.6%, according to the full-year figures from Defra.

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The final poultrymeat total was 1.94 million tonnes (carcase weight), comprising chicken, turkeys, ducks and spent hens, with all these sectors cutting back. Other poultry, including geese, are not included.

Chicken was down by 17,000t for the year overall, to 1.75mt, and boiling fowl (spent hens) were down 22,000t to 48,000t.

No figures for turkey or duck output have been released by Defra for 2022, due to problems with its sources.

Turkey and duck

However, working backwards from the overall total indicates the output of turkeys and ducks combined fell by 12,000t to 134,000t, of which the great majority will be turkey.

For the broiler industry, the downturn is most likely just a ‘blip’ in the long-term growth trend.

Last year’s total is still the second highest on record, 58,000 tonnes higher than the 2020 tally, which at the time marked an all-time high despite the arrival of the pandemic.

Spent hens

In the case of spent hens, last year’s total of 48,000t marked a startlingly rapid decline and represented the lowest annual output for the previous 28 years, which is as far back as the current datasets extend.

In contrast, the totals for 2019 and 2020 (around 84,000t) were the highest recorded by the expanding sector.

It was different again for turkeys and ducks, where last year marked another stage of a steady decline.

Since their peak production in 1997 at 334,000t, the combined total is down 60%, with both turkeys and ducks falling similarly.