USDA: Polish poultry industry faces unprecedented crisis

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/K Neville
© GettyImages/K Neville

Related tags Poland Poultry exports covid-19 Poultry

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the Polish poultry industry to the brink of crisis, according to a USDA report.

Although Poland remains the EU’s largest poultry producer, demand for Polish poultry meat among Western European hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) stakeholders dropped sharply in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“From early March to late April 2020, farm-gate prices for broiler chickens fell by 13%.

“In addition to COVID-19, Poland has struggled to contain outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). As of May 21, 32 HPAI outbreaks have occurred in Poland since December 31, 2019.”

Export markets hit

After the December HPAI outbreak, several export markets banned Polish poultry and egg products, notably South Africa, China, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines.  In 2019, 87% of Polish poultry meat was exported to other EU markets, particularly the UK, Germany, and France, wrote​ the USDA.

In terms of the coronavirus pandemic, large chicken and turkey operators that are focused on HRI export markets in the UK and Germany are the ones that are particularly affected, noted the US organization.  

“Orders dried up and cross-border logistics become challenging.”

Domestic demand for poultry meat also declined following almost no HRI sales, reported the USDA.

In March 2020, poultry meat exports declined by about 12% compared to the same month last year, with exports to the Netherlands and Belgium the most reduced. They are the countries which import Polish poultry meat mainly for re-export outside of the EU, said the USDA citing data from Poland’s National Chamber of Poultry and Feed Producers (NCPFP).

Intervention urged 

Polish poultry industry representatives predict that, in April 2020, exports could be as much as 50% lower than April 2019, and they are demanding government intervention.

On May 13, during a virtual meeting of the EU’s ministers of agriculture, the Polish minister of agriculture, Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, did ask the EU Commission to include poultry among the EU’s new market intervention programs. He proposed to use funding from the EU budgetary crisis reserve for this purpose.

“At this point, the Commission has not offered any aid to the poultry sector,”​ said the USDA in its report, which was published on May 21.

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