Which are Europe’s largest poultry, egg producers?

Europe’s largest poultry meat and egg producers continue to grow and are increasingly consolidating their presence in the export market.

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Europe’s main poultry meat and egg producers tend to draw significant income outside their home markets. aluxum | iStock.com
Europe’s main poultry meat and egg producers tend to draw significant income outside their home markets. aluxum | iStock.com

While no European chicken meat or egg producer is large enough to be ranked amongst the world’s leading producers, this does not mean that they are not dynamic or simply focused on their home market.

With many having, relative to the world’s leading producers, small home markets, Europe’s broiler meat and egg producers have grown extensively either through exporting or establishing production sites beyond their borders. This has allowed them to achieve a size beyond what simply serving their home populations would allow.

For some European producers, this is a significant achievement, given that they operate from high-cost environments. For others, in less developed European markets, it is low-cost production that has given them a competitive edge.

While circumstances may differ depending on geography, what is common across these companies is a focus on overseas expansion. This has proven particularly beneficial for several Ukrainian companies, in particular, the latest data from the World’s Top Poultry Companies database reveals.

Leading broiler producers

France’s LDC remains the largest chicken producer in Europe. Coming in at number two is Ukraine’s MHP, absent from the top five the last time that Poultry International looked specifically at Europe’s leading chicken meat and egg producers. The rise of MHP has pushed Plukon, of the Netherland, into third place.

These three companies illustrate how European broiler producers have grown beyond their home markets. In the case of LDC, approximately 19% of income is generated outside its home market. Plukon is aiming to be a major supplier to the French market, while for MHP more than half of its income comes from exports or production beyond its borders.

  1. LDC

France’s LDC continues to be Europe’s largest chicken meat producer. Slaughtering over 578 million broilers each year, the company has 86 production sites across Europe and has seen output increase by 45% since 2015.

The company is also active in ready meals, however, chicken is its core business and approximately 60% of LDC’s turnover comes from chicken production in its home country. The company has been growing this sector both organically and through acquisitions. In late 2019, for example, LDC finalized the purchase of Société Luché Tradition Volailles, a company specializing in the sale of fresh poultry products.

LDC is also increasingly establishing a presence beyond the borders of its home country. Recent acquisitions include Hungary’s Marnevall, which specializes in frozen breaded products, and Belgium’s Kiplama, an importer and distributor of French poultry products.

Approximately 19% of the group’s income now comes from exports or overseas production.

  1. MHP

Slaughtering 478 million head each year, MHP is the leading poultry producer in Ukraine and the Balkans.

In its home market, MHP accounts for close to 60% of local chicken meat production and, unsurprisingly, has the most recognized chicken brands. The company is fully integrated with activities stretching from feed grain production through to marketing and sales.

MHP’s Perutnina Ptuj subsidiary is the leading poultry and meat-processing company in the Balkans, where MHP also owns several production and distribution concerns. MHP is increasingly expanding abroad, both through acquisitions and organic growth and is thought to sell in 80 markets around the world. Export revenue accounts for more than half of the company’s revenues.

  1. Plukon Food Group

The Netherlands’ Plukon Food Group slaughters 426.4 million broilers annually. Supplying chicken products and ready meals, the company is active across several European countries. It owns 11 poultry processing plants and seven processing and packing plants across the Netherlands, Belgium France and Poland.

Among company strategies is to become a major supplier to the French market, facilitated by its purchase of local concern Duc.

At the start of 2020, the company acquired Spanish poultry producer Grupo de GestiĂłn Empresarial AvĂ­cola VMR, SL.

  1. Gruppo Veronesi

Slaughtering 350 million head of chicken a year, Gruppo Veronesi, is not only Italy’s largest poultry producer but also its largest feed and pork producer. Selling into over 70 countries around the world, exports currently account for 15% of sales. 

Like many of its competitors, Gruppo Veronesi has been expanding overseas. Late last year, it invested over EUR11 million (US$12.2 million), in Russia, establishing a production site in the Belgorod district.

  1. PHW Group

PHW Group is Germany’s largest poultry producer, slaughtering 350 million broilers annually, and is the owner of the brand Weisenhof, selling chicken, turkey and duck meat.

PHW comprises over 30 medium-sized companies including Poland’s Drobimex and Hungary’s Bacs-Tak.

Poultry is the group’s principal activity, however other interests include the production of feed ingredients and biofuel from poultry slaughter by-products.

Europes-five-largest-broiler-producers

While France’s LDC retains lead position amongst Europe’s top broiler companies, the gap between it and Ukraine’s MHP is closing. | WATT Global Media 

Leading egg producers

While European broiler producers may be absent from the top 10 leading chicken producers, looking at the ranking of the world's top egg producers it is not until number 20 that a European producer appears.

The difference in scale becomes particularly apparent when comparing European flock sizes with overseas competitors. Take, for example, the layer flock of U.S. company Cal-Maine Foods. The world’s largest egg producer has a flock totaling 100 million birds – larger than the combined flocks of Europe’s five largest egg producers.

However, as with Europe’s broiler producers, Europe’s egg producers are far from reliant solely on their home markets.

  1. Avangardco

With 10.5 million layers, Ukraine’s Avangardco is Europe’s biggest egg producer, producing both shell eggs and egg products. The company’s operations comprise feed production through to the sale and marketing of egg and, within its home market, it holds a 30% share of the table egg market and 66% of the market for powdered eggs.

The first half of 2019 saw the company’s table egg production rise by 44%, while sales increased by 99%. Shell egg exports rose by 164%. However, egg powder production and sales decreased by 34%.

Avangardco exports to approximately 40 countries around the world with key markets being the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Commonwealth of the Independent States and the European Union. The company continues to penetrate new markets, gaining access to Tanzania and Singapore last year.

Exports are thought to account for about half the company's shell egg sales.

  1. Avril Group

With a laying flock reaching 10 million head, France’s Avril Group is not only a leading egg producer but is also active in food, feed biofuels and oils and pork production.

Avril’s main egg division, Matines, was the first company in France to introduce branded table eggs, while Sister companies Ovipac and 3 Valleys produce egg products. Matines is currently the focus of significant investment and modernization as Avril transitions it, along with its other brands, to cage-free production. Matines remains the leading egg brand in France, however, the Matines division suffered financial losses last year.

  1. Eureden

Egg production accounts for 7% of the Euro 3.1 billion turnover of this French cooperative group, which spans milk, meat and principally crop production and was formed through the merger of Triskalia and d’aucy Group earlier this year.

Within its egg division, which is home to 7.4 million layers, the company is fully integrated. Its Cocotine brand, which is sold only to caterers, restaurants and industry in the form of eggs and egg products, is said to be the number one brand in the country for egg-based products.

Approximately 13% of Cocotine’s sales are generated outside of France with Europe and the Middle East being particularly important markets.

The company aims to be cage-free by 2025.

  1. Ovostar Union

Ovostar Union, with 6 million layers, is one of the leading egg and egg products companies in Ukraine. In addition to its poultry operations, the company is also active in feed and fertilizer production.

As well as being a significant table egg producer, the company claims to be the leading producer of liquid eggs in Ukraine and the second-largest producer of dry eggs.

The company has significant export activity. Overseas markets accounted for 73% of its sales of table eggs in the first half of this year, 73% of its powdered egg sales, and 39% of its liquid egg sales. The company sells into 55 countries around the world, particularly in the EU, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa. 

  1. Noble Foods

Noble Foods, with 6.7 million layers, is the leading U.K. egg producer with additional operations in poultry processing, feed milling and prepared foods. Its Happy Egg brand is the largest table egg brand in the U.K. and the company has a growing presence in the U.S.

Its UK foodservice division is thought to account for over 10% of sales and was branded earlier this year.

Europes Five Largest Egg Producers

French and Ukrainian companies dominate the ranking of Europe's leading egg producers. | WATT Global Media 

 

 

 

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