The poultry industry is looking to launch its first corporate social responsibility strategy in a bid to boost the sector's reputation and increase its say on issues such as GM and sustainability.

Modern, efficient poultry production was still seen as "problematic" rather than something to be proud of, which meant poultry producers often found themselves on the back foot when trying to make the case for their industry, said Rob Newbery, chief poultry adviser at the National Farmers' Union.

A CSR strategy highlighting the sector's achievements and performance against other meat and livestock industries would go some way towards correcting common misconceptions about poultry production, he added. "We want to show we're not a problem; we're a solution."

One of the misconceptions producers are keen to address is the view that poultry rearing is overly resource-intensive.

To that end, the NFU is working with researchers from Newcastle University, the University of Nottingham and Cranfield University on a detailed lifecycle analysis, which will show how much energy and feed are currently used in poultry production as well suggesting strategies for improvement.

Another key issue is GM feed. Under the terms of their contracts with the supermarkets, poultry producers are not currently allowed to use GM soya, although many are keen to do so.

Non-GM soya is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to source, putting additional strain on producers at a time when input costs are soaring across the board.

Producers are also hoping a formalised CSR strategy will make it easier to communicate their goals to retailers, most of which have CSR plans of their own. "We want to show we are embracing the principle of having a CSR strategy," said Newbery.

Plans for a poultry CSR strategy were presented by poultry board chairman Charles Bourns at the NFU conference last week.