Poultry meat is one of the key areas of Italian animal farming, despite complaints by producers about the lack of stronger support by institutions. 2013 figures speak for themselves: production came to nearly one and a half million tonnes, just 0.2% less than in the previous year, while turnover reached 5.7 billion euros. This snapshot of the sector provided by Unaitalia, the Poultry Industry Union representing approximately 90% of companies dealing with chickens, eggs and rabbits.
The slight downturn compared to 2012 is almost entirely attributable to the turkey meat sector, while chicken actually increased by 0.3%. Consumption also performed well, posting +20% over the past decade. “In Italy, 99% of poultry meat consumed comes from national production. Consumption stands at 19.4 kg. per capita, slightly below the European average of around 22-23 kg,' Eurocarne Post heard from Aldo Muraro, President of Unaitalia.
There are clear reasons for the success of the sector. “This is confirmation of the current market trend,' Muraro explained, 'with a slight increase in production and consumption, as is also happening in the rest of Europe. This is thanks to well-known features such as poultry meat's good taste, easy digestion and versatility together with the more favourable cost/protein ratio compared to other meats not the least in relation to the current economic crisis.'
Italy has long been self-sufficient in the poultry sector, which means that Italian meat is also highly popular abroad. As Muraro highlighted, 'exports of poultry meat in terms of quantity are about twice imports. If we compare the same data in terms of the value of goods, however, the relationship is reversed because Italy imports products of higher economic value, such as breasts, while exporting products with a lower value, such as wings and legs.'
However, there certainly are difficulties. 'Competitiveness with other European and non-European poultry producer countries,' concluded the President of Unaitalia, 'can be understood as one of the complex aspects of the sector which, despite being among the most advanced, still needs even more innovation to be competitive and reduce production costs, which among the highest in Europe. The sector has not innovated its technology as it could and should have, especially because of a lack of resources since adequate support was not provided by EU institutions for innovation in animal farms and plant. In this context the new CAP, through its rural development plans, may play an essential role in order to promote the achievement of efficiency levels in line with the new market equilibrium.'
Source: Eurocarne Outlook