The European Union is one of the world’s largest poultry meat producers and a net exporter of poultry products with annual production of around 13.4 million tons.
The EU imports high value poultry products, including breast meat and poultry preparations, mainly from Brazil, Thailand and Ukraine, while the EU exports poultry products of lower value.
Poultry is part of the common market organisation between EU countries, which has several functions. This includes providing a safety net to agricultural markets, and laying down minimum quality requirements. Poultry farmers can also get income support in the form of direct payments.
Market measures and marketing standards
The EU does not routinely intervene in poultry markets, however exceptional market support measures are possible in cases of animal diseases and a loss of consumer confidence.
The EU has marketing standards for poultry; these are designed to improve the quality of the product, protect the consumer and make sure that standards are consistent throughout the EU market place.
These standards lay down detailed rules that poultry products must satisfy in order to be marketed in the EU. In general, they provide for:
- sales descriptions;
- quality grading;
- limits of technically unavoidable water content in poultry meat absorbed during processing;
- definitions and labelling of various alternative methods of poultry production.
Poultry produced outside of the EU and imported is subject to licenses, this is another method that the European Commission uses to monitor trade flows. Imports are only allowed if they comply with EU animal health and food safety standards.
Poultry imports from non-EU countries are subject to import duties. By means of these import duties, the EU ensures that its economic operators in the sector are able compete on the EU internal market with non-EU countries.
Imports are organised by a system of tariff rate quotas, these can be based on specific country allocations or open for all countries (erga omnes). Quota volumes may change per year due to programmed increase, new negotiations or accessions to the EU.
Additional import duties
Additional import duties may be applied to poultry meat imports in order to counterbalance any unfavourable effects on the EU market. These duties apply if the imported products have a lower price than the level notified by the EU to the WTO (the trigger price).
Imported poultrymeat must comply with the EU’s marketing standards, as set out in Commission Regulation (EC) No 543/2008. The Regulation states that imported poultrymeat bearing certain optional indications must be accompanied by a certificate issued by the competent authority of the country of origin indicating compliance with EU marketing standards.
In accordance with the Regulation, the United Kingdom* has notified the Commission of its competent authorities.
* without prejudice to the application of Commission Regulation (EC) No 543/2008 to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland in accordance with Article 5(4), Annex 2, point 31, of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland to the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (OJ L 29, 31.1.2020, p. 7).
Regulation (EU) 1308/2013, article 220 – establishes a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products with article 220 indicating measures concerning animal diseases and loss of consumer confidence due to public, animal or plant health risks
Commission Regulation (EC) No 543/2008 – lays down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) 1234/2007 as regards the marketing standards for poultrymeat.
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1185 – laying down rules as regards price and production notifications.
The EU monitors the poultry market in order to identify market instability, provide accurate information to farmers and processors on the market situation and to help public policy decision making.
Market monitoring in practice
Each EU country must submit to the Commission, no later than 12.00 noon (Brussels time) each Wednesday, the selling price in slaughter plants or the wholesale prices recorded on the representative markets for whole class A chickens (known as ‘65 % chickens’), or for another whole chicken presentation if it is more representative.
Various committees, composed of government representatives and chaired by a European Commission representative, meet regularly to ensure that the Commission's responsibility for adopting implementing acts is exercised under the control of EU countries.
The Expert Group on Agricultural Markets meets regularly to discuss areas such as the evolution of market prices, production and trade in the EU and non-EU countries.
The civil dialogue group on animal production maintains the role of assisting the Commission in maintaining a regular dialogue on all matters related to poultry.