While the Asian bird flu epidemic continues to spread, UK retailers remain confident about maintaining supplies.
Although the EU has placed a ban on any raw poultry meat from Thailand, the vast majority of Thai chicken imported into the UK is cooked meat and therefore exempt from the ban.
However, the Thai government has suspended all exports of chicken, cooked or raw, indefinitely.
Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said about three quarters of imported Thai chicken was cooked and, according to EU rules, free to come into the UK. The vast majority of the imported meat is used in the processing industry for things like ready meals and chicken soups.
However retailers who do source from Thailand said there was no problem sourcing product from other places.
A Tesco spokesman said: “Thailand is just one of many countries we import from, so we’re not envisaging any problems with supply.”
Asda said it would be switching from what it described as small amounts of imported Thai meat to Brazilian. Sainsbury, meanwhile, said it used only small amounts and all of its Thai products were produced before the outbreak.
No retailer reported an impact on overall poultry sales and said consumers retained confidence in the product.
Marks and Spencer has responded to the situation with a series of ads in the national press pointing out all its chicken products are sourced from the UK and EU.
Meanwhile British operators with Thai interests are playing a waiting game. Grampian said its operation was, so far, clear of the disease and bio-security measures were being stepped up. It said the business exported very little meat to the UK.
Cargill-owned Sun Valley said it would do its best to continue supplying customers.
Ed Bedington