Eggs? Sustainable by nature

An important supply chain for the Italian agri-food industry, which has to deal with a market that is unable to reward the efforts made by farmers. The association Assoavi addressed this issue at Fieravicola

Globally, some production sectors are more popular with consumers than others. Eggs and poultry meat are certainly one of them: in fact, they can be eaten by people of all religions, are affordable and are extremely high in nutritional value. However, the efforts of farmers are not always properly rewarded, which makes tackling the new “ethical” demands of consumers a challenging task.  

During Fieravicola in Rimini, Gianluca Bagnara, president of Assoavi (the Association of Italian egg producers), spoke about the promotion of eggs and, in particular, pointed out the challenges facing producers who are squeezed by the rising costs of raw materials and the unwillingness of buyers to acknowledge such trends. What is the solution? The forthcoming Common Agricultural Policy could be of help in this regard, provided that concrete measures are taken to support the production of vegetable protein in Europe, given that almost 90% of protein demand is imported.

Stefano Gagliardi, the director of the association, agreed with Bagnara and assured the audience that Assoavi members are committed to increasing the amount of eggs laid by cage-free hens, in an effort to effectively improve animal welfare. In general, consumers seem to appreciate this, but it hardly ever translates into added value for poultry farmers.

A constant focus on welfare
Pierdavide Lecchini, Director of the Directorate General for Animal Health and Veterinary Medicinal Products (DGSAF), also brought up this issue and reminded farmers of the central role that animal welfare plays in future EU policies. In fact, a reform of the legislation that has been in force for the last 15 years is imminent, but if not properly targeted, it could pose difficulties for the industry.

This is a real concern, and the fact that consumers and the market interpret the concept of animal welfare differently may make things even more difficult for producers. Luigi Polizzi, Director General of the MiPAAF (Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies), hopes that sustainability will not be a unilateral goal, since sustainability cannot be achieved unless farmers are adequately remunerated. So why not come up with initiatives aimed at promoting the consumption of eggs and white meat? The opening remarks were delivered by Francesco Battistoni, Undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, who had already attended the first day of Fieravicola. He suggested convening an industry round table discussion in order to address these issues.

However, the industry’s competitiveness is a complex issue that is linked to global trends that also affect Italian producers, as pointed out by Romano Marabelli, Advisor to the Director General of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). Mr Marabelli also mentioned the positive social impact of intensive poultry farming, which, over the last few years, has made it possible even for consumers with less spending power to continue to enjoy the benefits of high-quality proteins.

Consumer needs
Another major issue is that of consumers and their needs: with regard to eggs, Coop Italia decided way back in 2003 – as Renata Pascarelli, Quality Manager at Coop Italia, explained in Rimini – to include only eggs from cage-free farms in all Coop branded products. But what is the next step? To have eggs laid by hens that are sexed in the egg.

The future lies in One Health
The context in which this industry is operating is constantly evolving, and the concept of One Health, that is, a unanimous approach to animal and human health, will serve as a guideline for the agri-food sector. Paolo Sani, Managing Director of MSD Animal Health Italia, wrapped up the session at Fieravicola by stressing the fact that MSD has invested substantial resources in prevention, thus helping to reduce the use of antibiotics in poultry farms. He suggests learning to hunt in packs, i.e. working together as a team: in fact, unless the agricultural and animal husbandry industry learns to pool its efforts, future goals will be harder and harder to achieve.
Press office Fieravicola
Giulia Fellini – Filippo Fabbri
Agenzia PrimaPagina

Share this!