Since 2016, no avian influenza levels had been observed in the EU compared to this moment, leading to a reduction in Poland’s egg supply. This country, which is the largest European poultry producer, has also been the most affected because of the high laying hens’ culling and mortality. In this way, Poland is exhibiting the avian flu effects in the poultry industry with more than 5 million birds culled.
The disease produced by the influenza A virus subtype H5N8, has caused substantial economic losses in several European and Asian countries, devastating flocks in farms already hit hard by Covid-19.
“The number of outbreaks has surged even more than in difficult years,” Monique Eloit, head of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), told Reuters.
Although the number of birds culled in Poland is elevated, no chicken meat shortage is expected. There were 6.4 billion chickens slaughtered for meat in the EU-27 in 2019, according to statistics issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). However, the reduction in the egg supply put some upward pressure on prices. Some other European countries have also raised egg prices, such as France and Germany. Spain, another major producing country, does not show the same trend and maintains weak prices.
“Prices for eggs on the wholesale market in Poland jumped by about 18% to 20% at the end of January”, said Katarzyna Gawronska, the director of the National Chamber of Poultry and Feed Producers.
In France, avian flu has mainly hit duck farms, but after completing the culling of about 3 million birds, the crisis seems to be contained. Yet, a French poultry company was forced to recall exports that were already on their way to China. Countries like Sweden and Germany destroyed in the past weeks, large flocks to prevent the virus spreading. Trade restrictions are anticipated in the EU triggered by several outbreaks around the world.
To combat the disease, farmers are ordered to ensure that nets to keep out wild birds are appropriately installed, disinfect facilities and check hygiene regimes.
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