Ukrainian poultry giant MHP is opening a processing plant in the Netherlands next month, to the concern of local producers who feel their reputation will be hit, the Volkskrant says on Friday.
MHP breeds, slaughters and processes some 332 million chickens a year, making it the biggest poultry company in Europe. By contrast, the Dutch poultry industry as a whole breeds and kills some 574 million chickens a year, the paper says.
Most of MHP’s production takes place in Ukraine itself but around one-third is exported, making the opening of a Dutch processing plant a logical step. Exports to western Europe are now increasing because of the EU’s trade treaty with Ukraine.
The Dutch sector is extremely worried about the arrival of the Ukrainian giant, Hennie de Haan, chairman of the Dutch poultry farmers’ association, told Volkskrant. Dutch farmers are subject to strict animal welfare and hygiene rules but the EU’s trade treaty has opened the door to cheaper, less animal-friendly products, she said.
De Haan says the farm sector’s economic institute estimates a kilo of Ukrainian chicken is about 40% cheaper than Dutch poultry.
‘This is due to [our] higher wages, better quality food, animal welfare requirements and political choices,’ she said. ‘We can export 70% of our chicken because we have a name for producing safe food with an eye for animal welfare.’
She is particularly angry that the Ukrainian chicken will be labelled ‘produced in the Netherlands’ even though it was only processed here, the Volkskrant says. This, De Haan says, enables MHP to benefit from the good Dutch reputation without meeting its standards.
MHP board member Anastasia Sobotjoek told the Financieele Dagblad that MHP adheres to all the EU’s rules and continually invests in new and better technology.
In addition, she said, the company has a partnership with the Dutch animal health service for training and control.
MHP’s main Ukraine facility was partly financed by ING and Rabobank.
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