Live from the field: Technology in the German poultry industry 

[00:00] Welcome everyone. This is MTech AGcelerate and we are here in the field. My name is Nicolay Shchetikhin and I have Jim Johnson with me. Hi, Jim.

[00:13] Hi, Nick, how you doing?

[00:14] No bad, not bad. You know, it’s always good to visit a countryside, especially if it’s in the north of Germany.

[00:20] Oh, this is a bit different, isn’t it? I mean, we did our first kind of live podcast a few weeks back in France. And this is the second one in the field. Visiting people in the industry here. And having fun. Yeah.   

[00:32] Yeah. So Germany is a big country and has a very big poultry industry. Right. So what do we know in terms of stats?

[00:41] Yeah, it’s a really fascinating industry Nik, because you know, and watching it over the last 20 years, this industry has doubled in size in terms of poultry, meat production in that period of time. And that’s obviously them trying to become more self-sufficient in production. But the fact also 20 years’ worth of new builds in a means that quite a young average age of broiler farm, or poultry farm, which obviously is interesting for us because a lot of tech involved.

[01:07] Yeah, now we’ve been passing quite a lot of different types of structures and facilities, and all of them look pretty new. But we’ll talk about that a little bit later, what kind of technologies they’re using. But coming back to the stats, right? You said that the consumption grew, but the total meat production was at 1.6 billion, right. And chicken consumption is at 1.8 million. Right. So, it’s quite a substantial part of the total.

[01:40] Yeah, I think that’s right. And it’s growing. I mean, poultry, meat production in Germany is growing year by year. I think the last year we have stats for it grew over two and a half percent. In terms of their own domestic production, of course, the import the balance from mainly Poland, effectively, but you’ve got increasing per capita consumption of poultry meat here in Germany, which is great as no sitting at what was it 23 kilos.

[02:06] Yes, it was capita, 23 kilos per capita for 2020.

[02:11] Now, the kind of interesting thing is that well, chicken kind of increasing quite nicely per capita, the total meat consumption for Germany in the last few years is actually reducing. So there’s slightly more pressure on total meat consumption here in Germany. And I guess that’s all the whole debate around sustainability and what people are eating what the population is eating.

[02:33] Yeah, and also, chicken is probably the most affordable source of protein. And that that is very important. That’s why it’s growing. It’s also healthier. And speaking about sustainability. It’s one of the most sustainable proteins to produce. 

[02:51] It absolutely is. So that competitiveness and the ease of, you know, you use chicken in different diets. And, you know, flavor carrier and stuff is really a winner, a winner here in Germany. But as we all know, it’s a kind of winner for chicken globally. So, so that’s so great news. And you know, the other thing we stand I guess behind can you see, probably not see behind us, but there are some renewable energy, wind turbines. And we’d been driving through Germany the whole day and seeing lots and lots of these wind turbines. And so renewable energy is a big theme within this country here. And the whole sustainability debate. Yeah,

[03:26] yeah. And also, there are different types of renewable energy, right, this windmills are just one thing. And then also, there are fields and fields of solar panels in here in Germany. And again, talking about the technology in the poultry housing, we saw a lot of poultry houses equipped with a solar panels on the roofs. And it’s almost like a must thing here.

[03:51] Yeah, I was looking at it, comparing it with what I’ve seen in the UK, for example, where you got quite a lot of new sheds going up over in the UK. And, but they’re not using the same amount the solar panels, as we can see very visibly here on virtually every farm that we’ve driven past in the last day or so, as got the whole roof space covered in solar panels. So that’s good, then, and then the other. The other thing we’re seeing here is quite a bit of biomass production, too. We just drove past, you know, 30 minutes ago, a big biomass plant. So they’re really keen on that renewable energy here.    

[04:25] And that’s why poultry industry is taking off because it’s using all of those advantages or trying to lower down the cost of production because energy is is quite a big chunk of the cost of production, right? Because yeah, first number one is feed, but there are plenty of land we see here and all of that land is used for agriculture to using raw materials to produce feed and so on.

[04:52] Yeah, lots of that, you know, so they’re leading in renewables. The other thing that they that they’re big on here, of course, is welfare and Again, not fits in the sustainability, overall picture, it’s one leg of sustainability, direction that the industry is taking. So that’s good. I mean, there’s, there’s been a lot of debate about, you know, the culling of male chicks and Germany’s kind of lead on that front and legislation from next year, which effectively bans the, the culling of male chicks.

[05:25] Yeah, and it’s a big topic. And I think like you said, Germany and France is leading towards that regulation to be applied already next year. And it’s, it’s big, and also the industry has to adopt on how to deal with that, because, you know, banning something is is simple. But then resolving the problem and consequences is another thing. And this is where, again, different kinds of technologies popping up to identify male or female chick, even before they hatch. So the there are different technologies to test eggs, and most of them working pretty well in chickens. But I know that Turkeys is not the same. So that technology is not yet that advanced,

[06:12] It’s a bit more challenging, isn’t it? But I mean, it’s always, and in some ways, you know, it’s what’s driven the whole poultry industry, and the success of the industry over the last decades is the fact that we get challenged by welfare, we get challenged, you know, on competitiveness, cost of production, and the industry raises to the challenge every time and it’s about utilizing technology and some of the science and trying to bring in how can we use that whether it’s sex determination of embryos, is a classic example of that, and, and that, that’s really gone down pretty well. And the adoption of that technology, I’m sure over the next few years will become more prevalent across, across the nations, and across the world. The other thing that was interesting is just starting to get a little bit of, of the kind of better chicken commitment discussion going on. And of course, you know, the Netherlands has been quite strong on this for some time. It’s just starting to creep in. And some of the German-based retailers I think, have basically stated their timelines for moving all of their meat production, including poultry, into these more welfare-friendly systems. So that’s starting to gain some traction.

[07:24] Yeah, now, I think many of the supermarkets and retailers committing to some sort of regulations like that, right. Even in UK, we also recently saw that some of the producers not accepting certain types of growth, types of chicken. So there is a trend and of course, it should be evaluated in try to understand what is the what is the path? What is the best for the industry, what is the best for the food chain, in general,

[07:57] Sure sure, and then all these things, they challenge industry, and that’s what we’re good at responding to the challenges. So that’s been a great success. And we really enjoyed visiting some customers and potential customers here in Germany this week. So it’s been good fun, Nick. And I guess we can do some more of these shows as we move around different parts of the world. Yeah, absolutely.

[08:18] Please join us on the social media. Don’t miss any notifications. And if you want to follow us even closer, and of course, see more news from the poultry from the swine from different areas in agriculture. We now have a telegram channel and the link will be down below. So subscribe that and we’ll see you in the next episode.

[08:41] Great stuff. Thanks very much, Nick. Cheers. Cheers, folks.

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