Looking back on 2012, the poultry industry has not been without its difficulties. Unfavorable climatic conditions have continued to add to feed price inflation, the economies in developed nations have been sluggish at best, and demands for producing taking ever greater account of animal welfare showed few signs of abating.
Yet, there have been a number of milestones and celebrations also. Of course, I have to mention that Poultry International celebrated its 50th anniversary, and we are grateful for the support and positive feedback that the September celebratory issue generated.
In addition to this, 2012 saw the World’s Poultry Science Association celebrate its centenary and I also would like to extend my thanks to all those that contributed to, and helped to organize, the special article that we ran in the July issue of the magazine.
In late September, another anniversary celebration took place, this time at the United Nations General Assembly, where figures from the fields of nutrition and development gathered to recognize the role of micronutrients in alleviating malnutrition and advancing global health and sustainable economic development.
The term “vitamin” was coined in 1912, yet despite the importance of vitamins for growth and health, at least two billion people around the world experience hidden hunger, ie they do not receive vitamins and minerals in sufficient levels. And this situation is not only in the developing world – changing diet and lifestyles mean that insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals is increasingly common in the developed world.
DSM, the host of the UN event, is seeking to raise awareness and increase access to essential vitamins noting that investment in nutrition can raise a country’s gross domestic product by at least 2-3 percent per annum.
So while the poultry industry may have had, and continues to have, its difficulties, there are various factors at play that indicate a positive future. We hear again and again of growing income levels and middle class tastes in the developing world. And solving nutrition issues, it would seem, could act as a virtuous circle. This can only bode well for poultry producers.
However, we read less about the hunger in the developed world. Consumers’ inability to eat healthily in the developed world surely offers the poultry industry an opportunity where everyone can be a winner.
We all know that poultry meat is seen as the healthy option without the negative associations that are sometimes attributed to red meat. Eggs also now have a clean bill of health. The role of these two foods, therefore, should become more important, irrespective of how an economy is categorized. While these two foods are already great sources of nutrition, there are also possibilities for enrichment, which not only offers differentiation but could help to remedy deficiencies for some populations.
So while it is nice to look back on the year and note the celebrations and milestones that have been achieved, it is also good to look to the future with an eye on the opportunities and the possibility for even more celebrations.