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India Bans Imports of US Poultry Due to Bird Flu

02 January 2015

INDIA - India plans to challenge a World Trade Organisation order that told New Delhi to remove curbs on poultry imports from the US, saying it is important to protect the industry that supports livelihood of millions of people in the country.

According to The Economic Times, India had banned poultry imports on account of avian influenza, which WTO called 'unscientific'." We are filing an appeal very soon to the appellate body. We may get improvement in the panel decision itself, which will help us in future," a commerce department official told ET.

"We are, no doubt, committed to protect the industry in a WTO compliant way," the official said, adding that the poultry sector is growing in many states and has huge employment potential.

Fearing loss of business, local poultry players have been pressing the government to take steps to ensure that the US does not dump chicken legs, an item that they say Americans usually discard, in the Indian market.

Currently, fresh chicken in retail was selling for 180 rupees (INR) a kg and chicken legs for INR240 a kg. On the other hand, chicken drumsticks from US come in at around INR50 to 60 a kg.

G.B. Sundararajan, managing director of Suguna Poultry Farms, said the industry was working to provide international quality product at affordable rates.

On the likely threat from the US, he said, "We are adopting wait-and-watch policy. The outcome to the issue can take six months to two years."

India is the fourth largest producer of chicken in the world after the US, China and Brazil, with annual production of 3.5 to 4.0 million tonnes. Per-capita consumption of chicken in India has been on the rise, with eating habits changing predominantly in the metro cities, driving demand for fresh meat and meat products.

Organised players such as Godrej Tyson, Suguna Foods, Venkateshwara Hatcheries and Alchemist have been expanding their retail base and increasing capacities. Currently, foreign suppliers have no direct access to the Indian poultry market.

Global poultry majors like Pilgrim's of the US, Brazil's Perdigao and Charoen Pokphand Foods from Thailand are keen to enter the country, industry executives said.

US-based Tyson Foods entered the Indian market in 2006 through a joint venture with Godrej. In the 1980s, US poultry breeding company Cobb had a joint venture with Venkateshwara Hatcheries.

The Economic Times adds that the Aviagen Group, the world's premier poultry breeder, had set up an integrated back-end processing plant in Coimbatore.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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