This article was originally published by Poultry World. Click here to read the original article.

Members of the European poultry meat sector have agreed to establish a Sustainability Charter by the beginning of 2022. The move, agreed upon during the annual European Poultry Meat Association’s (AVEC) general assembly, comes against the backdrop of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, in which the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) have committed to turn the EU into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Known as the Berlin Declaration, the charter will aim to find the best balance between the three pillars of sustainability – environment, social, and economic. All stakeholders in the production chain, including poultry meat breeding companies, farmers, food processors, academics, and scientists, will contribute to the charter.

Strategic asset

AVEC said the poultry meat sector was a strategic asset in the EU food system, with a total production value of €38 billion and exports worth €2 billion per year. It employed 370 000 people with 25 000 family farms rearing birds to high standards.

“In Europe, conventional poultry meat production represents 80% of the market. Using highly efficient production processes, only a small number of natural resources are necessary to generate a highly valuable protein source for the human diet.

“Implementing higher welfare standards for our animals is part of our DNA, and we are proud to be leading the world in this matter. Crucial for both, animal welfare and the high product quality is the extensive expertise of our highly qualified professionals who often bring many years of experience to our sector,” AVEC said in a statement.

Fair transition

AVEC is keen to see a fair transition towards more sustainable European poultry meat production, but said it was necessary for EU authorities to guarantee and enforce a level playing field with international trade partners with identical rules for imported poultry meat.

Birthe Steenberg, AVEC secretary general, said: “The level of commitment of the EU poultry meat sector is highly dependent on the willingness and capacity of the European Commission to defend the sector against unfair competition from third countries. It is of great importance that the efforts implemented in the EU poultry meat sector – which will raise production costs – are not met with a counter-effect of larger imports from third countries. We produce meat in a very climate-smart way in Europe, so importing more meat from third countries will in the end lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions globally.” – Poultry World