“If, as we fear, free trade negotiations with the United States open up poultry imports, we demand assurances from the European Commission that imported products uphold EU standards in terms of safety, animal welfare, bans on the use of chemicals and, in particular, safeguards for the Italian poultry sector.”
So said Lara Sanfrancesco, CEO of Unaitalia (National Union of Meat and Egg Agro-Food Producers), this morning in Verona during the Eurocarne Roadshow, the last leg of a tour that took in Legnaro (Padua), Reggio Emilia and Milan, which projected the sector towards the major event dedicated to the meat sector and related production, processing and marketing technologies.
“The international exhibition,” said the CEO & Director General of Veronafiere, Giovanni Mantovani, “is scheduled in Verona 10-13 May 2015 and is the only one to have adopted a vertical approach to the supply chain, from producers to sales counters”.
To counter the dangers of the TTIP negotiations (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), says Lara Sanfrancesco, “we are working to highlight the values of the Italian poultry sector, even through labelling; this is the only way we can defend production self-sufficiency and protect the characteristics of 'Made in Italy' that make our products safe thanks to observance of high manufacturing standards. Otherwise, there is the risk that Italian poultry will no longer be competitive in the event of imports from the United States”.
Threats come in two shapes and sizes. “The use in the United States of antibiotics and growth promoters as well as decontaminants such as chlorine to kill any pathogens,” Sanfrancesco makes quite clear. “Both procedures are banned in the European Union”. Other risks are of an economic nature, since “production costs in Italy are much higher, not the least to ensure traceability in the supply chain responding to the highest food safety requirements”.
Poultry meat consumption is growing
Over the years, consumption of poultry meat has increased significantly, “from 1.5 kg per capita per year in the 1950s”, Sanfrancesco remarks, “to 19.30 kg currently and the outlook is for further growth in the medium-long term so that by 2050 poultry will be the most consumed meat in the world”.
The evolution of consumption, says the CEO of Unaitalia, has seen changes in terms of purchases. “Until the 1980s,” she points out, “only whole chickens were consumed but the trend has turned around and consumers now prefer individual parts: drumsticks, breasts, wings, legs, not the least thanks to evolution in technologies and typical Italian creativity which has brought about products with a high level of service”.
The changes can be summed up as follows: “28 per cent of consumption focuses on prepared and processed foods, such as kebabs and rolls; 60 per cent is linked with individual poultry parts, while only 12 per cent involves the purchase of whole birds”.
These dynamics respond to changes in society, reflecting an increase in mono-families and the need for ready-to-use products responding to easier and faster cooking requirements.
In 2008, on the other hand, 21 per cent was prepared and processed, 64 per cent involved poultry parts and 15 per cent whole birds.
Unaitalia facts and figures
Unaitalia represents more than 90% of overall Italian poultry production, amounting to 1,258,800 tons of poultry meat and 68,000 tons of rabbit meat (year: 2013). The value of output comes to 5.7 billion euros, while there are a total of 100,000 employees in direct (55 thousand) and related spheres. “Estimates of consumption in 2014 are basically stable, with an increase of 0.4 per cent, while consumption levels are stationary,” Sanfrancesco sums up. “The poultry sector is the only livestock field where Italy can rely on food self-sufficiency, with output equal to 108% of requirements, with 243,000 tons exported and 145,000 imported”.
Poland is the leading European producer
On a European scale, Italy ranks sixth in terms of output, behind Poland (2,372,000 tons), France (1,872,000 tons), Germany (1,708,000 tons), Great Britain (1,606,000 tons) and Spain (1,299,000 tons).
Source: Press Service Eurocarne-Veronafiere