Slovakia: Poultry breeders receive €3,5 mln support
The Agriculture Ministry in Slovakia has allocated €3,5 mln to poultry breeders in Slovakia in 2020 as part of extraordinary state support, with the first payments to be delivered as of Thursday last week. The ministry was reacting to complaints from the Slovak Union of Poultry Breeders (UHS) about a deteriorating situation for Slovak producers amid cheap imports fostered by foreign retail chains established in Slovakia.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture noted that the situation concerning coronavirus has affected almost every sector. "The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry has taken notice of this problem and it's aware of the serious situation in the poultry sector, while a similar situation is in other sectors of the food industry," adding that Slovakia as an EU-member country can't prohibit or restrict imports of goods without relevant reasons. The spokesperson noted that imported meat is strictly supervised and there hasn't been any related scandal in Slovakia.
Slovak poultry production declines amid cheap imports
"The situation faced by poultry breeders and processors in Slovakia has further deteriorated to a critical point, as domestic producers have been increasingly unable to sell their products via foreign retail chains operating in the country, which have been increasing imports and unduly squeezing prices", said Slovak Union of Poultry Breeders (UHS) director Daniel Molnar on Thursday.
As the Slovak food market is entirely open, retail chains have been importing poultry meat from several countries in the region, mainly Poland, Ukraine, Romania and the Czech Republic.
"While all countries in the region have been steadily increasing poultry meat production, placing their surpluses on our market at extremely low prices, the situation in Slovakia is the complete opposite. Slovakia's self-sufficiency in poultry meat production fell from 70 percent to 50.5 percent within three years to 2019, with this downward trend continuing in the final months of 2020," said Molnar, adding that things have deteriorated even further since the summer. In the first seven months of this year, 48,000 tons of poultry were imported to Slovakia for EUR60 million. In 2020, poultry farmers' sales have fallen by more than EUR3 million, and meat processors' by EUR9 million.
Meanwhile, Slovakia's foreign-trade deficit in poultry reached €60,4 mln (up 25 percent year-on-year) in the first seven months of 2020.
Retail chains in Slovakia have been importing poultry meat at prices that are 24-32 percent lower than last year, which is below production costs in Slovakia, noted Molnar. He added that if this trend continues, many Slovak producers will have to close their businesses, and the country's self-sufficiency in this respect will fall to 30 percent by the end of 2021. Slovak poultry farmers claim that their competitors abroad are better funded and labor costs are also lower. Apart from more money, they are calling for more controls of the quality of imported poultry.