An industry confident in the quality of its products, confident in its pricing and with a strong belief that it will continue to expand over the next half decade is the picture that emerged from a survey conducted by Poultry International, WATT PoultryUSA, and Industria Avicola in conjunction with Pfizer Poultry Health.

Respondents were drawn from attendees at this year’s International Poultry Expo, and visitors to the WATT and Pfizer websites. The survey collected responses from a range of industry players, including hatchery managers, veterinarians, production managers and farm owners.

The responses came primarily from North America (75.9%), followed by South America (8.6) and Asia (8.6), with the remainder from Africa (3.4%) and Europe (1.7%).

71.7% of respondents replied that the poultry industry is a sector that supplies good quality product at reasonable prices when asked which of five statements best described the industry at present. This was by far and away the most popular response, however, 15% of those questioned felt that the sector was struggling to deal with high input costs, 10% felt that producers were struggling to meet quality standards, but keeping prices down, while 3.3% felt that producers were struggling to survive because of low prices.

“The survey results depict an industry that is maintaining high quality end products under considerable – and varied – pressure,” says Dr Kirk Adams, group director of global marketing, new business and strategic planning for Pfizer Poultry Health.

When asked which one aspect of poultry production would producers like to see improve, the overwhelming responses were production efficiency (51.1%) and quality of end product (31.7%).

Hiding the light?

Producers’ views on consumer perceptions of the industry were, perhaps, disappointing, with 15% of those questioned believing that consumers viewed the sector negatively. 53.3% of respondents felt that consumers had no idea or did not care about the industry, while only 31.7% felt that consumers viewed the sector in a positive light.

Dr Adams commented: “While there is a degree of knowledge, a number of consumers are unaware of the process that leads to the chicken or eggs ending up on supermarket shelves. I think that, as an industry, we have a responsibility to educate the public about poultry production.”

Challenges

Animal welfare was seen as the main challenge facing the industry, attracting 43.3% of responses, while market prices came in second at 21.7%. Disease control was seen as the main challenge by 16.7% of respondents, while 10% saw the challenge as legislation. Only 1% of respondents felt that environmental concerns were the primary challenge.

However, looking to the future, the survey results paint a different picture. Almost 22% of respondents felt that environmental issues would be the main challenge.

The survey also reveals that producers expect legislation to become more challenging, with the percentage citing this rising from 10% to 11.7%. The percentage of respondents pointing to market prices more than halved indicating an expected upturn in the market, while those pointing to animal welfare issues declined slightly to 40%.

When asked for the their views on which disease would be the most important in five years time, almost 45% believed that it would be avian influenza. Some 20% chose “other”, while the split between infectious bursal disease (IBD) and Marek’s disease was equal at 13.8%. An overwhelming 96.6% of respondents felt that prevention was the best way to control disease.

Survey respondents were optimistic about the prospects for the industry. When asked “How do you feel about the future of the industry?”, 60.3% were optimistic, almost a third were neutral, and only 6.9% described themselves as pessimistic. 46.6% felt that the industry would undergo increasing expansion and integration, 29.3% foresaw increasingly difficult market conditions, while a little less than a quarter felt the current situation would stay the same.