Retailers have been praised for not capitalising on the avian flu crisis to bring in imports and contribute to a lowering of poultry meat prices triggered by foodservice and catering companies altering their sourcing strategies.
This sector seized heavily on the drop in consumption in Italy to import ­supplies, resulting in extremely low wholesale poultry meat prices here.
But retailers, in contrast, remained very loyal, said the National Farmers& ' Union's poultry sector head Charles Bourns.
While some had been importing poultry meat this had largely been to do with maintaining supplies ­during promotions as UK suppliers were unable to source enough product. The price damage from the imports had been significant, however.
Overall, consumers are now paying 2p less for a chicken after the crisis, but are getting 0.8kg more meat for it, he said.
But thanks to retailer support and promotions, chicken sales are currently up 1.9% - a level described by Bourns as being "pretty remarkable". However, prior to avian flu incidents in this country, growth of 7.6% had been achieved.
"We have kept poultry meat sales going here while other countries in Europe did not," said Bourns.
"But we have done so at a cost, and that is the damage we have to repair now.
"The wholesale market looks as if it is coming back but the improvements we have seen recently are not nearly enough."
About £1.10/ kg is the ­target level required, he insisted. The price this week was 90p/kg.
The egg sector did not have the same price problems, said Mark Williams, chief executive of the British Egg Industry Council. This was largely because of the Lion Scheme. Eggs sales actually rose after the Selladyke dead swan incident, he added.
Chris Walkland