Belfast Telegraph

Warning on UK chicken production

The UK is running out of space to rear chickens as the planning process for new poultry farms struggles to keep pace with more shoppers buying British.

With poultry set to account for more than half the country's meat consumption next year, the British Poultry Council has warned that consumers will be forced to buy imported birds if farms are not built fast enough.

Chief executive Andrew Large told the Daily Telegraph that outdated "preconceptions" from local communities about noise and smell were blocking much-needed sites.

More than two-thirds of the 2.2 million chickens eaten in the country every day are reared domestically.

But Mr Large said consumers heading to retailers such as Tesco, which in the wake of the horsemeat scandal has pledged to buy all its chickens from the UK, could soon face the possibility of empty shelves when trying to buy British.

"Poultry houses are not being built because planning permission has been denied or a developer has given up the ghost after being forced to wait so long," he told the newspaper.

"Decisions that should take 13 weeks are taking more than 18 months."

The popularity of chicken is partly down to its cost, with the price of poultry increasing relatively slowly over the past two decades when compared to other food groups.

Fresh imports of chicken to the UK tend to come from Europe, mostly the Netherlands, whereas frozen imports typically come from Thailand and Brazil.