Region/Countries: Benelux Countries, Europe Industry: Food and Beverage Date: April 2023

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Bird flu has trimmed the availability of chicken and has raised the price of producing poultry.

Bird flu in Europe and Latin America has tightened the global supply of poultry and has driven up the price of poultry imports. In the Netherlands, more poultry meat is being imported, opening opportunities for producers in Wisconsin.

Throughout Europe, high production costs and trade restrictions due to bird flu outbreaks are putting the brakes on exports. According to the Global Poultry Quarterly published by RaboResearch, demand for poultry “remains relatively strong” but avian flu “is a wild card.”

The report says chicken production throughout the EU dropped by 4% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same period of 2021. Turkey production decreased by 7%, and duck production was 20% lower. Meanwhile, poultry imports to the European Union rose 6% in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 227,000 tons.

For 2022 as a whole, chicken meat imports to the EU increased by 13%, and further growth is expected in 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Poultry imports from Ukraine jumped 60% in 2022 as a result of temporary EU free-trade measures to support Ukraine as it remains under attack from Russia.

The poultry industry is particularly concerned about the spread of bird flu throughout Latin America—especially if it reaches Brazil, a major supplier to Europe. The cost of feed and energy and the fluctuations of currency rates further complicate the market.

The Foreign Agricultural Service report projects that EU poultry consumption will increase by 1.4% in 2023 after a 1.2% growth rate in 2022.