Future poultry leaders

Nineteen young UK poultry producers have taken part in a training programme aimed at creating new industry leaders for the poultry sector over the past six months.

The Poultry Industry Programme (PIP), initiated by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and ABN provided the young producers with insight into market influences, latest trends in the industry, economics and the consumer.

The programme ran over two days, with sessions tailored to provide the participants with an insight into commercial pressures and to prepare them for strategic change.

Speakers included IGD chief economist James Walton, who discussed geo-political and social change. Walton said: "Economic conditions remain tough for shoppers and the businesses that serve them. There is little sign that this will improve, with more shocks yet to come. Poultry farmers will have many challenges to deal with, but poultry meat is affordable, nutritious, versatile and easy to prepare, making it attractive to shoppers.

"UK retailers are using their ‘foodie’ credentials to create a competitive edge and this may benefit UK producers who can offer quality, traceability and good production ethics." he added.

The first day focused on the retail sector while the second explored potential barriers to expansion.

NFU poultry adviser Chris Dickinson claimed the industry needed future leaders to be provided with necessary skills. He said: "This programme has come at a key time for the poultry industry. The next generation has much to be proud of. The industry has embraced new technologies, and continued to innovate and integrate to meet market demands."

Although Dickinson remained positive to the outlook for the industry, he said: "The sector still faces challenges of volatility, planning, and combating public perceptions, particularly relating to large scale production – and it’s increasingly important that we help to equip the industry with the necessary skills and research to deal with these changes," he added.

Other speakers included Morrisons head of agriculture David Evans, Kantar Worldpanel’s retail analyst Chris Hogan and several others from the industry.

Norfolk poultry producer Patrick Joice stated he was proud to be part of the group and found the programme of value. He added: "The PIP has helped to provide poultry producers across the UK with relevant research and information – and has also provided a networking opportunity."