GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS 2011 - Asia is a Significant Exporter and Importer

Asia accounts for around one–quarter of the world shell egg trade, according to Terry Evans in this second part of his analysis of the region’s egg industry.
calendar icon 15 February 2012
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Only about two per cent of world eggs are traded internationally in shell form. Trade statistics can be distorted due to double counting when supplies from one country to another are re-exported to a third country. The global total of imports fails to equate with exports because of the time lag between when exports are shipped and when they arrive at their destination and also because some countries do not have as detailed a record of trading as others.

However, the fragile nature of shell eggs pretty well guarantees that generally they will be transported over relatively short distances and mainly to neighbouring countries. It should be noted that, in some instances, the trade in hatching eggs is included with table eggs.

Since 2000, exports from Asian nations have more than doubled from 204,000 tonnes to 418,000 tonnes as a result of increased shipments from Turkey, Malaysia, China, India and, to a lesser extent, Thailand.

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Looking at the data from 2000 to 2009, clearly China is the number one Asian exporter, shipments having escalated from 65,000 tonnes to almost 145,000 tonnes. Of the 135,000 tonnes exported in 2009, the bulk (85 per cent) went to Hong Kong and a further eight per cent to Macao, with small quantities of around 2,500 tonnes being sold to Singapore and the US. Malaysia’s exports have nearly doubled since 2000, making her the second biggest shipping 98,000 tonnes in 2009, of which almost 81,200 tonnes (83 per cent) were purchased by Singapore.

The country recording the most rapid increase in trade has been Turkey. Back in 2000, this country's exports were a mere 4,000 tonnes, this figure rising to only 12,000 tonnes by 2006. Since then, however, exports have rocketed to a record near 90,000 tonnes in 2009, of which Iraq took 73,000 tonnes and the Syrian Arab Republic 7,000 tonnes.

India's exports had increased dramatically between 2000 and 2007 but have since declined somewhat to 44,000 tonnes in 2009. Although India was declared free of avian influenza in June 2010, egg exports in that year fell well short of the previous year as the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq had not re-opened their markets to Indian eggs. Shipments to West African countries also declined because Indian eggs were considered to be too expensive compared to domestic supplies. Bird flu has returned to India in recent weeks.

Exports of shell eggs from Iran, having amounted to almost 39,000 tonnes in 2000, rapidly contracted to just 2,500 tonnes by 2005 and further to a mere 400 tonnes in 2009.

Figure 1. Leading shell egg exporters ('000 tonnes)

Shell egg imports by Asian countries have increased during the review period but nowhere nearly as dramatically as exports, the total rising by some 100,000 tonnes from 236,000 tonnes to 336,000 tonnes (table 2 and figure 2).

The most dramatic change has taken place in Iraq, where receipts have rocketed from less than 11,000 tonnes in 2000 to more than 106,000 tonnes in 2009. Although no detailed breakdown on these imports is available, the export data from Turkey reveals that some 73,000 tonnes (69 per cent of the total) came from this source.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong has been a major importer with purchases ranging between 81,000 tonnes and 92,000 tonnes a year, 96 per cent of which came from just three countries in 2009 – China (57,000 tonnes), the US (17,000 tonnes) and Thailand (14,000 tonnes).

In the early 2000s, Japan was a significant importer of shell eggs, the total topping 14,500 tonnes in 2005. However, after an outbreak of avian influenza, importers switched their demands from shell eggs to dried egg products as these were considered to be safer. Hence, shell egg imports slumped to less than 1,000 tonnes by 2009.

Singapore has been a steadily expanding market with virtually all supplies coming from Malaysia.

Although significant buyers, none of the other leading importers – Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – purchased more than 20,000 tonnes in 2009. Kazakhstan imports are mainly from Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus, while India and Brazil are key suppliers to Oman.

Figure 2. Leading shell egg importers ('000 tonnes)

Four–Fold Increase in Dried Egg Exports

The year 2011 saw the implementation of CAFTA, a free trade agreement between ASEAN countries and China, with a zero duty on most goods traded in the area. As Asia’s egg products industry grows, this could pose a long–term threat to those egg product exporters outside this trade bloc. On the other hand, it could also jump start the ASEAN egg products industrialisation as processors from outside the region seek a foothold inside the region in order not to miss out on the impressive opportunities this zero duty trade bloc has created.

Exports of dried egg from Asia rose four–fold between 2000 and 2009 to exceed 9,100 tonnes and thereby doubling its share of the global total to 16 per cent.

As table 3 reveals, this has been primarily due to a rapid expansion in India’s trade, the volume climbing from less than 1,000 tonnes in 2000 to a little under 9,000 tonnes a year over the period 2005–2006 although since then, sales have slipped back to 6,800 tonnes in 2009. In that year, deliveries were spread over a wide range of countries from Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands in Europe, to Indonesia, Japan, Afghanistan, the UAE and Viet Nam in Asia. Due to the low cost of raw material and processing, India has quickly become a serious exporter of egg powder, primarily to Europe and Japan though sales are also made to fellow South-east Asian countries. Approximately, 1,500 tonnes of powder was exported to Japan and 500 tonnes to South-east Asia in 2011, the remainder being sold to the EU, Russia and the Middle East. There can be little doubt that India will become an increasingly important player in this trade.

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China is the only other country in this region shipping significant quantities. Of the near 2,100 tonnes exported in 2009, the leading customers accounting for 80 per cent of the total were Kazakhstan, Japan, Jordan, the Republic of Korea and the Yemen. Imports of egg products are almost non-existent while about 500 tonnes of egg powder was exported in 2011 mainly to Japan, South-east Asia and the Middle East.

According to FAO data, imports of dried egg into the region escalated from less than 7,000 tonnes in 2000 to more than 12,000 tonnes in 2007 and 2008, falling back to a little below 11,000 tonnes in 2009. However, another series of figures points to the total for Asia contracting from almost 22,000 tonnes in 2008 to around 19,800 tonnes in 2009. Main reason for the difference is the level, of imports into Japan which, according to customs data, fell from 15,571 to 13,757 tonnes in those two years. During 2010 and 2011 it looks as though purchases of total dried egg products into Japan were between 15,000 tonnes and 16,000 tonnes with dried albumen accounting for around 10,000 tonnes (with the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, India and Brazil the main suppliers), the remainder being split roughly 60:40 between powdered whole egg and dried yolks.

Japan, is easily the key buyer accounting for roughly 70 per cent of the regional total. As mentioned earlier, as a result of an outbreak of avian influence in 2004, some Japanese consumers, for food safety reasons, started to substitute dried egg products for fresh shell eggs. So, importers considered that shell eggs and dried egg products were close substitutes. Hence, import demand for the safer dried products increased to the detriment of shell egg purchases and this is reflected in the trade data. The quantities of dried albumen have trended upwards reaching a high in 2011 of more than 10,000 tonnes. Purchases of dried whole egg have also increased to some 3,500 tonnes, while imports of powdered yolk have been fairly steady at around 2,200 tonnes. While it is anticipated that Japan’s imports will decline due to a stagnant or declining population, this trend may be reversed should new food products containing eggs being targeted at the growing elderly population. Also, increased food safety and traceability in the developing Asian region will provide more choices for Japan to import. It is possible that as the region’s egg industry develops, Japanese egg processors may be tempted to invest to secure quality egg products while expanding their business in the region at the same time.

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are among the other leading buyers of dried egg products.

Steady Liquid Egg Trade

Annual totals of liquid egg exports and imports (tables 5 and 6) in Asia have shown little movement over the past decade, averaging around 10,000 tonnes and 22,000 tonnes, respectively.

China and Thailand are the biggest exporters both countries targeting Japan as their main customer.

Not surprisingly, Japan is the biggest importer though the quantities purchased toward the end of the last decade were well below the volumes bought during the years 2000 to 2005. The US supplied more than half of Japan’s requirements in 2009. Other important suppliers were China, Brazil and Thailand. In 2010, it is estimated that Japan's liquid egg purchases increased towards 10,000 tonnes.

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Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

February 2012
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