Could Brexit lead to a bigger UK pig and poultry sector?
Brexit could lead to a bigger pig and poultry sector in the UK, an animal feed firm predicts.
Dutch-owned ForFarmers, which has its UK base in Bury St Edmunds, pointed out that with the UK's self sufficiency rate currently at 60% there was scope for production growth.
The company - which operates in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Poland and the UK - acquired Ipswich-based BOCM Pauls in 2012 and relocated the headquarters to west Suffolk in 2017.
The farmer-owned group, which has issued its first half-year results for 2019, saw a dip in like-for-like feed volume sales, although due to acquisitions there was an overall rise. Overall gross profit fell by 1.7% to £198m, against a backdrop of the overall size of animal herds under pressure, mainly because of various environmental measures - particularly in the Netherlands and Germany.
In the UK, as consolidation continues, it said it had seen a decline in the number of dairy farmers, but said the dairy herd had remained relatively stable.
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This year saw less demand for compound feed in the ruminant sector due to the mild winter and availability of more forage.
The effects of a possible outcome Brexit remained "uncertain", the firm said, with the sector making efforts to ensure a smooth supply of raw materials from abroad. Meanwhile, there was growing political and public pressure on the agricultural sector in Europe to achieve environmental targets, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany, and consumption of poultry products continued to grow.
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The overall picture was reflected in the UK, it said.
"The (UK) dairy herd remained stable amid a further decline in the number of dairy farmers. Although the milk price was slightly higher than in the first half of 2018, demand for performance feed in the ruminant sector declined as more forage was available than last year because of the mild winter," a ForFarmers report said.
"Consolidation and rationalisation in the (UK) pig sector slowed compared to last year. Whilst consumer demand for pig meat remained stable, demand for chicken meat and eggs continued to grow. Much attention continued to be paid to reducing antibiotics in foodstuffs (and consequently in feed)."
ForFarmers chief executive Yoram Knoop said the first half results were "disappointing, but in line with our expectations".