Farms currently face a range of concerns that will affect the frozen meat and poultry market.
The biggest of these is the huge rise in animal feed prices, with a knock-on effect on shelf price. But it's the impact of poultry import quotas that has got the British Frozen Food Federation feeling a little hot under the collar.
The European Union has imposed minimum prices for poultry imported into the union and a quota system to limit the number of birds and amount of poultry meat arriving here.
These moves, the EU says, are intended to protect European farmers from unfair competition and to help mitigate the impact of rising feed prices. Further protectionist voices in the West point to the fact that the EU is already more than self-sufficient in poultry and doesn't need imports to maintain current consumption levels.
But the BFFF sees the move as a potential bottleneck in its members' sourcing of meat for freezing, and fears it will create higher prices on shelf.
"It may take a couple of years for the situation to unfold, but we're already seeing a huge amount of uncertainty in supply," says BFFF director general Brian Young. "People don't know what quota they'll get, and those that are reliant on added-value poultry from places such as Thailand and Brazil for curries and ready meals could have to source outside their quota, which will be more expensive."
One company that will
be less affected by all the fuss is Bernard Matthews. Following a bird flu outbreak and its televised caning by Jamie Oliver over the production values of Turkey Twizzlers, the company is focusing on
an all-British approach,
with 100% of its turkey now reared in the British Isles.
It hopes this will help increase its share of the £242m frozen poultry category [TNS].
This figure is up 11% on the previous year, driven,
say experts, by a number of factors including NPD, better promotions and advertising.
As part of the Good Mood Food Campaign, Birds Eye Grills have benefited from a major advertising investment, with £2.3m spent across TV, press, digital and PR all featuring the '100 Different Ways to Eat 100% Chicken Breast' message.
Birds Eye says it is committed to updating the frozen poultry sector with the launch of new flavours within its Chicken Grills range. The Peri Peri Chicken Chargrill, for instance, has been revamped with a new Portuguese flavour appealing to consumers who enjoy flavoured marinades.
While manufacturers look to go international with new flavours, they may need to consider keeping more of their sourcing closer to home.n