Sir, The poultry industry needs the instability that feed prices are causing like a hole in the head.

The egg sector has just had to invest £400m in new systems to meet EU legislation and our poultrymeat industry that, after 10 years of very little profit for investment, is beginning to feel optimistic about its future and investing at all stages of the chain. This investment will enable us to meet the demands for greater volumes of socially responsible British chicken.

The industry is investing in everything from heat exchangers and LED lights to new sites, both for breeders and growers. All this not only benefits the planet and society, but also improves welfare.

Price instability is caused by the reluctance of the end consumer to pay the increase in costs that in my broiler business represents 82% of variable costs. On top of this, energy and other utility costs are spiralling. It would be a pity if the optimism within the industry were to be snuffed out by this reluctance, as it will take longer to ignite next time; 'once bitten, twice shy'. After all no, chicken grows, or hen lays eggs, on thin air.

Charles Bourns, poultry board chairman, NFU