GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS 2013: Asia Puts More Emphasis on Trading Prepared Products

Asia is a major importer of fresh/frozen chicken meat, representing about half the global figure and more than double the quantity five years earlier, according to industry watcher, Terry Evans in his analysis of chicken meat trade in the region.
calendar icon 11 September 2013
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Exports of fresh/frozen chicken meat will amount to around 12.2 million tonnes this year. While this trade rose by nearly 80 per cent between 2000 and 2010, exports of prepared/processed chicken trebled from around 600,000 tonnes to more than 1.8 million tonnes. This came about because some countries imposed bans on the fresh/frozen trade as a result of outbreaks of avian influenza in the exporting countries.

The most recent data covering every country in the world is for 2010 (Table 1). This indicates that the global total in fresh/frozen product for that year was in excess of 11.6 million tonnes. This exaggerates the true picture as the total for Asia will include exports from Hong Kong, most of which will be re-exports from Brazil and the US, already accounted for in the figures for the Americas.

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It is apparent from this table that the quantities exported and imported in a year do not balance. There are many reasons for this including:

  • Some countries provide data on a general rather than specific product basis.
  • Data may be presented on a financial or market year rather than a calendar year.
  • There is a time lag between product leaving a country in say December and arriving at its destination in say January of the following year.
  • There can be a misclassification of a product between the exporter and importer.
  • There can be place-of-origin/final destination inconsistencies. For example country (A) may report that the final destination is country C, but the goods actually reach C via another country (B). As a result country C may report the place of origin of the goods was country B.

In addition goods can be lost during transport, while occasionally differences can occur due to a typing or calculation error. And, in some instances exports may not be declared to circumvent an embargo or avoid tax payments.

To get the complete picture of the chicken meat trade, allowance has to be made for exports and imports of prepared/processed chicken meat. These in 2010 amounted to the equivalent of around 2.5 million tonnes eviscerated weight, making a world total when added to the fresh/frozen figure in table 5 of around 14 million tonnes. This year total chicken meat exports are likely to exceed 15 million tonnes.

Asia's Broiler Meat Importers

Clearly, Asia is a major importer of fresh/frozen chicken meat, the total in 2010 at 5.2 million tonnes representing about half the global figure and more than double the quantity five years earlier (Tables 1 and 2; Figure 1). The trade in chicken paws is not included in these figures.

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Over the past decade or so, Japan’s receipts of fresh/frozen chicken have tended to contract from 568,000 tonnes in 2000 to 420,000 tonnes in 2010, while purchases of prepared/processed products have expanded from 154,000 tonnes to almost 380,000 tonnes, the latter being equivalent to around 530,000 tonnes if the prepared products are converted to the eviscerated weight equivalent. Hence, total imports on an eviscerated weight basis amount to around 950,000 tonnes

While Japan is the leading importer in the region (excluding Hong Kong as most of the imported product here is re-exported), clearly this mantle will soon be taken over by Saudi Arabia (Tables 2 and 3). Indeed, the USDA anticipates that Saudi’s broiler imports in 2013 will be in excess of 800,000 tonnes and by 2021, they could exceed one million tonnes.

Poultry shipments to this country must be accompanied by a “halal” slaughter certificate issued by an Islamic centre in the country of origin. The slaughter must have been carried out in an officially licensed plant in accordance with Islamic procedures. A certificate must also be provided stating that the poultry have not been given feed containing animal protein, or animal fats and have not been fed growth hormones.

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Iraq is the other country which is having a major impact on imports into the region. Both the FAO and USDA series reveal a similar picture of imports to 2009. However, in 2010, the figures diverge as the USDA data point to a sharp increase, while the FAO figures have declined (Tables 2 and 3). It must be appreciated that the FAO data are estimates based on trading partner data basis and will almost certainly be subjected to revision. Hence, in this instance, the USDA figures could prove to be the better guide to the trend, with imports expected to reach 624,000 tonnes this year (Table 3 and Figure 1).

Figure 1. Asia's leading broiler meat importing countries ('000 tonnes)

Asia's Broiler Meat Exporters

Although China is an important exporter, annual total volumes have not changed significantly since 2000 (Tables 4 and 5; Figure 2). However, what have changed are the quantities of fresh/frozen and prepared products traded. In broad terms, exports of the former have more than halved since 2000 to 165,000 tonnes in 2010, while shipments of prepared chicken items have more than doubled to 230,000 tonnes, the leading buyer being Japan.

A USDA report, on the other hand, maintains that China’s broiler exports (fresh/frozen/prepared) will decline by 2.7 per cent this year to around 400,000 tonnes. This country’s cooked poultry items are facing challenges this year due to new trade policies in major markets.

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In recent years, Japan has lowered its import tariff for Thai cooked chicken to the current level of two per cent, which compares with six per cent for Chinese products. In addition, the European Union has implemented a new import quota on certain products containing broiler meat which is expected to favour Brazil and Thailand to the detriment of Chinese exports.

Back in 2000 the bulk of Thailand’s exports fell into the fresh/frozen category. However, after outbreaks of avian influenza, shipments of these chicken items slumped to less than 5,000 tonnes in 2005 as a result of bans being imposed by importing countries. This forced Thai exporters to switch to prepared chicken products, the quantities exported escalating from around 100,000 tonnes in 2000 to 280,000 tonnes (not converted to eviscerated equivalent) in 2005. Since then, fresh/frozen sales have crept up to 33,000 tonnes, while exports of prepared items have continued to climb to around 430,000 tonnes in 2010, while the latest USDA forecast for 2013 stands at 600,000 tonnes.

In 2010, the leading buyers of these Thai items were Japan (190,000 tonnes) and the UK (137,000 tonnes), these two accounting for more than three-quarters of the total trade. The EU and Japan account for around three-quarters of Thai chicken exports. With the EU lifting its ban on Thai exports of uncooked chicken, sales are expected to rise to more than 100,000 tonnes a year.

However, the main “mover” in this business since 2000 has been Turkey, with exports rocketing from virtually nothing to, according to the USDA, an estimated 330,000 tonnes this year. In 2010, when FAO data showed that exports amounted to almost 140,000 tonnes, most of this business was conducted with Iraq (62,000 tonnes), Viet Nam (20,000 tonnes), Hong Kong (19,000 tonnes), Tajikistan (9,000 tonnes) and Azerbaijan (7,000 tonnes).

Figure 2. Asia's leading broiler meat exporting countries ('000 tonnes)

September 2013

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