Forum highlights challenges facing global poultry industry

Merial convenes international forum to share critical intelligence about maintaining the health and wellbeing of the world's poultry supply.

Meeting the rapidly increasing demand for poultry and improving the health and care of flocks were two of the key industry issues discussed at the Third Global Avian Forum, hosted by Merial recently in Paris, France.

Merial convened customers, industry experts, leading academics and international regulatory bodies from around the globe to share critical intelligence about maintaining the health and wellbeing of the world's poultry supply, according to an announcement.

Forum attendees discussed these issues and more, reaching broad consensus that stakeholders "must embrace greater, multidisciplinary coordination and collaboration to prevent and control avian pathogens and diseases," Merial said.

By 2050, 70% more food will be required to feed the world's population, and by 2020, chicken will overtake pork as the global animal protein of choice and the poultry industry will play an even more crucial role in ensuring food for future global populations, Merial said pointing to the Rabobank "Crossroads for Growth: The International Poultry Sector Towards 2020" report.

Merial said careful oversight of the world's poultry flocks — including such practices as employing vaccination programs from hatchery to field, providing high-quality veterinary care, introducing new products, novel equipment and services and improving immunity and controlling new disease strains — is imperative to managing the world’s poultry supply.

"We realize that the most effective way to control infectious diseases is to prevent them from even entering the flock, utilizing key measures such as improved biosecurity, robust monitoring and surveillance, in addition to a well-executed vaccination program to reduce host susceptibility to infection," said Merial avian research program leader Michel Bublot.

Attendees agreed the growing global demand for poultry is not without challenges, especially with a broad variety of complex pathogens and diseases that can infect flocks. The impact can be significant, leading to crushing economic cost, loss of public confidence and less-than-optimum quality in production, the announcement said.

Speakers also focused on methods to control specific viruses — such as infectious bronchitis virus and Newcastle disease — and particularly infectious bursal disease, one of the most immunosuppressive diseases affecting flocks globally, as well as the role of vaccines and technologies in improving overall immune system health of poultry and thus helping to reduce immunosuppression.

The forum also included a roundtable with representatives from the top-10 leading poultry companies in the world, who all agreed that maintaining a high level of poultry health while maintaining cost control were two key challenges for the future of the industry.

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