Bulgarian poultry sector optimistic despite challenges

The Bulgarian poultry sector had a difficult year in 2020, with continued growth halted for the first time in 10 years. However, the outlook for 2021 and 2022 remains optimistic.

2020 has been a difficult year for the poultry industry. In Bulgaria, the year started with poultry stocks 2% higher than in 2019, but ended with closing stocks 10.3% lower. Farms have reduced their inventories due to reduced local and export demand and increased production costs.

A sharp increase in the price of feed, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry and tourism, and the loss of some export markets have affected the Bulgarian poultry sector in 2020. Photo: Zoe Schaeffer

A sharp increase in the price of feed, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry and tourism, and the loss of some export markets have affected the Bulgarian poultry sector in 2020. Photo: Zoe Schaeffer

Industry estimates show a 35-50% increase in production costs between May 2020 and January 2021, while the annual market price for broilers in 2020 decreased 3% to € 145.98 / 100 kg compared to € 183.95 / 100 kg for the EU average.

Cut poultry, whole flanges lowered

A total of 24 slaughterhouses were operating in the country, 8 of which specialized in ducks. This is 2 more than in 2019. Poultry meat production decreased by 1.4% compared to 2019. Commercial poultry production decreased by 1.3% while non-commercial production increased by 3.8%, although its share in the total supply of poultry meat was only 1.5%. The production of poultry cuts in slaughterhouses increased by 3.1% while that of whole poultry decreased by 4.1%. This trend indicates an increasing market demand for value added and convenience products.

Chicken and duck meat production

The production of broiler meat decreased by 2.5% and represented 79% (78% in 2019) of commercially produced poultry meat, compared to duck meat (16%). The average carcass weight was less than 1.6 kg compared to 1.7 kg in 2019. For the first time in years, the market share of cuts of broilers increased from 46% in 2019 to 39%, which indicates a shift in demand towards more and more retail sales. prudent consumer spending. Unlike broilers, duck meat production increased by 5.4%.

Consumption down after a record year

Poultry consumption declined 3.7% in 2020 from a record high in 2019. This is due to the fact that retail sales are not compensating for the decline in the restaurant industry. Per capita consumption (excluding catering) remained at the 2019 level (12 kg). Total poultry meat consumption is expected to experience marginal growth followed by a recovery in 2022.

Import broiler chicken meat, export duck

In 2020, imports, which are dominated by broiler meat (94% of total poultry meat imports), decreased significantly due to lower domestic demand – by 10.9% in volume and 18.3% in value compared to 2019. The main suppliers were Poland (20%), Hungary (20%) and Romania (18%).

However, export revenues come mainly from duck products. Exports declined due to lower export demand from Greece, Cyprus and Belgium as well as the loss of the UK as an EU market. Exports fell 22.5% in volume and 25.3% in value due to lower export prices. Duck meat exports to the main export markets of France and Belgium have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In 2020, in terms of broiler meat, exports decreased by 28.1% in tonnage and 32.8% in value. Greece was the largest market and accounted for 44% of broiler meat exports, followed by Romania (20%). The difference between the average prices of broiler meat in Bulgaria and in the EU-27 is an advantage for local exporters. In 2020, the Bulgarian average annual price was € 145.98 / 100 kg compared to € 183.95 / 100 kg for the EU average.

Slow recovery for the poultry sector

A slow but steady recovery is forecast for the Bulgarian poultry sector for the 2021 marketing year. The year started with a decline in poultry stocks by 10.3%, including a 19.4% drop in chicken stocks. of flesh. Despite 3 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in duck and layer farms from February to May 2021, the affected farms were able to recover quickly.

It is expected that the production of broiler chicken meat in 2021 will increase slightly from 2020. Since the incomes of consumers, catering and tourism largely stimulate the domestic demand for poultry meat, the consumption of 2021 is expected to increase. slightly. A stronger recovery in local demand and production is expected in 2022.

Member States with the largest declines in poultry production

Data from January to May 2021 indicate a decline in the slaughter of broilers (-4.3%) and ducks (-45%), resulting in a 12% drop in total poultry meat production over the course of the year. corresponding period in 2020. As of April 2021, the European Commission has reported a 16.9% drop in Bulgarian poultry meat production compared to a year ago. The EU average for this period was down 4.7%. The country was among the top 3 EU Member States with the largest declines in poultry production, along with the Netherlands and Lithuania.

Sustained positive growth

Monthly market prices for broilers increased by 7.2% from June 2020 to June 2021, reaching € 155.25 / 100 kg in July 2021 against € 137.84 / 100 kg at the start of the year. The expected large grain and oilseed harvests and lower feed costs are expected to support the growth of the poultry industry in the second half of marketing year 2021.

The information in this article was taken from a USDA GAINS report.

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