Industry Minister Debora Giorgi said that Argentina is on track to become, in the short term, the fourth largest producer of poultry meat.
According to the Industrial Strategic Plan 2020, the sector achieved in less than a decade exports of 600,000 tonnes per year.
From 2003 to present, poultry production tripled, doubled the level of per capita consumption and export became tenfold, from 65 to 650 million dollars.
Today, Argentina is the ninth largest producer of poultry meat, producing 1.6 million tons.
According to industry estimates more than 90,000 tonnes were produced in 2011, reaching a record two million tons this year.
"We are on track to be within a few years, the fourth largest producer of poultry meat," said Giorgi.
He also emphasised that Argentina "is the sixth largest exporter of poultry meat and sells to over 60 countries", for one, so far this year already exported 356,000 tonnes, 100,000 of which were destined to Venezuela.
In 1970 it took 2.8 kilos of balanced food for a kilo of chicken and 75 days for a broiler chicken of 2,500 kg. In 2010, two kilos of food was required to do the same balanced kilo of chicken and 46 days for a broiler chicken of 2,760 kilos.
Since the incorporation of technology in the production chain, for 2017 producers are going to need 1.7 kilos of food and 38 days for a broiler chicken of 2,800 kilos.
Argentina has a level of domestic consumption of 40 kilos per capita per year, which mobilises investment in the sector to increase capacity and production.
The forum Poultry Industry Strategic Plan 2020 agreed to reach this year with a consumption of poultry meat in the country of 50 kilos per capita per year, producing 3.1 million tonnes (91 per cent more than in 2010), generating 50,000 jobs to achieve the 200,000 workers in the sector and export 600,000 tons per year.
Every ton of corn and soybeans exported by Argentina means an average income of $620. In the poultry sector that same ton processed into chicken can generate foreign exchange for $2,300 and $2,900 if it is exported as bucking chicken cooked.
This means that industrialisation poultry increases between 270 and 370 per cent foreign exchange earnings of one ton of grain exported as a commodity.
The sector also adds value to export, through quality and technology to process the meat end with the best performance.
Argentina registered a steady growth since 2003, going from 300 million head of poultry slaughtered, compared with over 700 million in 2011, while consumption of poultry meat in the period 2003-2011 increased from 18 to 39.5 kg per capita.
Meanwhile, exports grew at an average rate of 37 per cent per year, currently more than 60 countries.
The scene at Corse Lawn is being enacted all over Britain.
Three dairy farmers go out of business every week, which means not only that livelihoods are destroyed but that buildings fall into ruin and green pastures are sold for development.
And as the small producers disappear, the trend will be towards US-style “mega dairy farms”, where up to 8,000 cattle are kept indoors, as the only business models able to produce milk for such low prices.
Milk prices have been falling since the 1990s, when the Milk Marketing Board, which set prices for farmers, was scrapped in favour of a free market.
In June, the main buyers – Arla, Müller Robert Wiseman and Dairy Crest – cut prices by around 2p per litre, and they plan to introduce a further 2p cut in August, to around 25p.
These processors supply milk to all the major retailers, who have continued to cut prices for milk and now sell it for as little as 55.5p a litre. Loss leaders offer four pints for 99p – less than the price of a bottle of mineral water.
But while prices for the consumer have gone down, the margin awarded to the supermarkets has gone steadily up, from 2p per litre of milk in 1996 to 15p today.
The number of dairy farmers in the UK has gone down from 34,570 in 1996 to 14,500 today and if the latest price cuts go ahead, many more will sell up like the Gotts.
Farmers are furious – and desperate – and plan to blockade processors and retailers unless the 4p cut is reversed.
David Handley, a dairy farmer from Monmouthshire who leads Farmers For Action, a pressure group, warns that farmers will refuse to sell milk for such a derisory sum.
“Ultimately, there will be no fresh milk, because if we do not get our cost of production, we will throw it down the drain. Let’s see how the retailers explain that to their customers, when there is no milk on the shelves.”
The retailers are the key to the picture since they sparked the “milk wars” by playing the processors off against one another and bringing down prices.
Some are better than others, though: Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Waitrose and Tesco all offer more than 29p a litre.
But even after price increases this week, Morrisons, the Co-operative and Asda are still well under the cost of production at around 27p and other supermarkets are paying barely above 25p.
For Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), it is quite clear who the villains are. “Supermarkets are making healthy profits, my dairy farmers are haemorrhaging,” he says.
For their part, processors claim that they are being squeezed between the retailers and the global markets.
Because so much milk today is skimmed or semi-skimmed, dairies rely on sales of cream skimmed off the top.
But bulk cream prices have fallen almost two-thirds, to £1 per kg, while butter has dropped 70 per cent to £2.20 per kg this year.
The fall was caused by a boom in dairy farming in the East, as supply catches up with demand from the growing middle class in China and India.
Dairy Crest has agreed to loosen the terms of its contracts so that farmers can back out after three months’ notice if the processor cuts its offered prices.
But with nowhere else to go, this is unlikely to help many farmers.
Müller Robert Wiseman says it is not in a position to “fund a milk price at the level it was prior to the global cream collapse”, and Arla says the “market returns are not in place for us to pay a higher price at the moment”.
This leaves the supermarkets as the only group able to take action before more farmers go bust.
Mr Kendall says all supermarkets should offer a price to cover the cost of production, enabling processors to pay farmers a fairer price. “Either retailers have to reduce their margins or consumers have to pay more,” he says.
Retailers claim they are doing everything they can in the current climate, with customer spending down in the recession and cheap new outlets such as Aldi and Lidl, which offer cheap milk, growing every day.
But the campaigners believe this is no excuse and consumer pressure is growing, with #sosdairy trending on Twitter.
The Women’s Institute has issued a “Fair Deal for Dairy Farmers” poster and is calling on its members to boycott supermarkets that don’t pay a fair price for milk.
One of the most obvious ways to help farmers, it suggests, is to drink more milk.
Despite the publicity about dairy allergies and marketing of diet products, milk remains a low-fat and nutritious food that is not only good for health but helps sustain the British countryside.
Cooks Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver have also waded into the fray to save dairy farmers and the “centuries-old landscape that supports them”.
The Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee held an emergency meeting this week to try to get retailers and processors to work together to offer a fairer price for farmers.
Jim Paice, the Farming Minister, will meet supermarket leaders next week to discuss a more “sustainable” way of managing fresh milk sales in the UK, so that farmers are offered a fair price through boom and bust cycles of the cream market.
Mr Paice favours a “voluntary code” that would encourage supermarkets, processors and farmers to agree a fair price among themselves rather than the Government setting a price – as suggested by some in Europe.
But he is clear about where ultimate responsibility lies.
“The big problem that we face is what I view as the absurd level of price-cutting by some retailers, particularly those in what is known as the middle ground,” he says.
“One retailer is openly selling milk at 99p for four pints. The reality is that such a price is completely unsustainable.
“Such retailers need to understand that if they go on like that, there will be no milk.
There is a limit to cost-cutting. Maybe some producers can cut their costs, but not to that level. It is completely impossible.”
But if the prices paid to farmers go up, will it really be the supermarkets or the consumers who pay more?
A survey by the NFU found that 62 per cent of consumers would be willing to pay 5p more for a pint of milk if it meant that dairy farmers got a fair price.
For the good of our farmers and the countryside, we fickle consumers may have to match our words with actions.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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