To further the Science of Healthier Animals™, Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the U.S. and Canada) hosted “Step Up to Solutions” sessions to facilitate these conversations between poultry producers and industry experts in poultry health, production and processing.
Dr. Ron Meijerhof of Poultry Performance Plus was one of the experts on-site to meet with producers. During his sessions, he discussed new technologies in broiler breeders, reproduction and incubation. As poultry production advances, Meijerhof noted that the quality of the product itself was no longer a distinguishing feature in the competitive marketplace. “High quality is the baseline,” he said. “If you do not have product quality, in most major markets, it will not be sold. But things like animal welfare and environmental impact are becoming distinguishing factors that consumers are interested in.”
Dr. Paul Aho, a poultry economist and founder of the consulting firm Poultry Perspectives, also met with producers to discuss biosecurity and the changing environment for poultry producers. “One major trend in the poultry industry is the emphasis on convenience,” Aho said. “Poultry companies are looking to add value to their products. In addition to offering processed, packaged poultry, they’re also providing prepared food. It’s vertical integration continuing to its logical extreme.” According to Aho, the “pure chicken company” is disappearing. The first and second largest poultry companies in the U.S. are becoming multi-meat producers and the global consolidation of poultry companies impacts everyone from consumers to producers. “Producers need to follow these trends of adding as much value as possible, getting branded names close to the consumers,” he said. “Consumers are willing to pay for something they trust, but producers have to invest in those brand names.”