A no-deal Brexit agreement could spell irreparable chaos for UK chicken farmers, the British Poultry Council (BPC) has warned.
As negotiations furiously continue, chicken experts have predicted the controversial no deal arrangement would cost the industry £200 million - in just six months. The statistic is all the more shocking given the nation’s poultry sector is almost entirely self sufficient. Nevertheless the BPC is adamant that no deal would lead to a sharp decrease in export revenue.
The EU market currently accounts for around 75% of Britain’s export trade, with 370, 000 tonnes of poultry meat being sold to the EU in 2017. What’s more, these lucrative exports of were predominantly lower-value dark meat (including legs, thighs and wings, as well as fifth-quarter portions (such as feet, heads and offal).
Richard Griffiths, CEO of the BPC, claimed the sector’s carcass balance would be hindered should Theresa May fail to negotiate an appropriate trade deal. He continued on to suggest that UK processors would need to increase the cost of white meat sold in the UK - which would translate as a 25% price increase for consumers.
With so much uncertainty clouding the future of the meat industry, food business operators are anxious about the amount of birds they are currently processing. The decision is a difficult one - especially since the UK market risks being flooded with meat it cannot sell.
Griffith said: “A no-deal Brexit would be incredibly damaging for our sector, for our ability to trade, for our workforce and for British consumers of poultry meat.”
The expert also noted that political uncertainty meant capital investment into the industry was low. Furthermore, with 60% of poultry workers hailing from the EU, no deal would only exacerbate the plethora of problems brought about by Brexit.
Griffiths was ultimately damning in his message to British politicians: “If the government is serious about making Brexit work, it must avoid running the risk of creating a two-tier food system where only the affluent can afford to eat British poultry that meets British standards from farm to fork.
“It’s crucial the UK finds a workable trade deal with the EU and gives our sector access to non-UK labour. We need certainty in order to grow and thrive.”