Ukrainian poultry company, Myronivsky Hliboproduct (MHP), is set to open a processing plant in the Netherlands, reports Dutch News. The new processing plant will be in Veenendaal, near to Utrecht.

The news has not been welcomed by Dutch farmers who fear their reputation for high-quality poultry meat may be adversely affected.

Hennie de Haan, chairman of the Dutch poultry farmers’ association, told Volkskrant that Dutch farmers are subject to strict rules on animal welfare and hygiene, but that the European Union’s recently reached trade agreement with Ukraine has opened the door for cheaper and less animal-friendly products.

Ukrainian chicken is about 40 percent cheaper than Dutch poultry, according to de Haan. Causing most concern, she said, is that poultry meat from the new plant can be labeled “produced in the Netherlands,” enabling MHP to take advantage of the high reputation of the Dutch without meeting its standards.

MHP responds to concerns

In response to these concerns, MHP board member Anastasia Sobotjoek told Financieele Dagblad that MHP adheres to all the EU’s rules and continually invests in improved technology.

Explaining the reasons for MHP’s investment in the Netherlands, she said that the 40,000 metric tons of poultry meat Ukraine is allowed to export to the EU under the present trade agreement is not enough.

MHP produces and processes 332 million chickens per year, mostly in Ukraine. Around one-third of its output is exported – mainly to the Middle East, North Africa and Central Europe – so the company sees the opening of a Dutch processing plant as a logical step.

MHP’s main facility in Ukraine was partly financed by ING and Rabobank of the Netherlands, according to Dutch News.

One year ago, MHP announced its aim to increase exports of poultry meat by 20 percent in 2015.

Earlier this year, MHP signed an agreement with Gezondheid Dienst voor Dieren B.V. (GD) of the Netherlands, under which GD will provide training, guidance and laboratory services to MHP on animal health, welfare and husbandry.

“By investing billions of dollars in production capacity and new facilities, which are the best of the best, we offer to the European consumers excellent quality products at the best prices,” commented Chief Executive Officer of MHP, Yuri Kosyuk, as the agreement was signed. “Today's agreement represents an additional guarantee that the production process at MHP fully complies with European standards.