Consumer concern over bird flu has driven the price of poultry down in the continent and now the UK market is being saturated with cheap poultry imports, a UK newspaper reported.

Italy has witnessed poultry sales decline by 70% while France and Germany have both seen a 20% drop in sales. The surplus, the Times reported, is being sold to UK wholesalers who supply pubs and restaurants. There is speculation that some continental chicken may also make its way onto the shelves of discount supermarkets.

The cheap imports are expected the hit UK farmers. Retailers have reported reducing the price of chicken nearing its sell-by-date to as little as 37 pence per pound, whereas UK farmers need to sell chicken for 54.5 pence per pound to break even, the report said.

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said: “It is already hard enough for people who supply chicken to the mainstream supermarkets, with buyers keeping prices down. Some farmers might just have to cut back on production.”