GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS 2013: Chicken Imports Rise to Africa, Stable in Oceania

Chicken meat imports into Africa are forecast as the considerable increase in domestic production fails to keep pace with growing demand, according to industry watcher, Terry Evans. In Oceania, Australia is the only country to participate in the trade of poultry meat.
calendar icon 13 November 2013
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Africa's Chicken Imports to Rise

As poultry meat production in Africa is not expected to keep pace with the increases in consumption arising from economic and population growth, imports into this region are expected to rise. The Economic Research Service of the USDA anticipates that over the next decade, imports of poultry meat into developing countries will grow at 3.4 per cent per year, while the Africa/Middle East region will likely account for 64 per cent of the rise in world poultry imports.

Although the global trade in fresh/frozen chicken meat almost doubled between 2000 and 2011 when exports reached a record 12.5 million tonnes, Africa’s role in this business is negligible amounting to only 56,000 tonnes in 2011 (Tables 1 and 4).

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How the trade on a global basis has developed since then depends on which series of figures is used for reference, none of which is directly comparable.

In the FAO’s latest 'Food Outlook' report, the growth in the poultry meat trade has slowed with the estimate for 2012 showing a gain of just 2.3 per cent over 2011, while the forecast for 2013 of 13.3 million tonnes is only 1.5 per cent up on the previous year.

However, the USDA’s estimates of broiler meat exports for 2012 at 10.1 million tonnes were 5.8 per cent up on 2011, while the latest figure for 2013 points to a slowing down in the rate of increase to 2.2 per cent to 10.3 million tonnes. It should be noted that trade between European Union (EU) member countries is excluded from the USDA figures. This could add up to 2.3 million tonnes to these estimates bringing the total for 2011 to 11.8 million tonnes, while the 2013 figure would be closer to 12.6 million tonnes. Despite the differences in absolute numbers, both series indicate a slowing down in the poultry/chicken meat trade.

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In contrast to the export business, Africa plays an increasingly significant role in global imports of fresh/frozen chicken meat. Since 2000, shipments to this region have increased nearly five-fold to a record high of 1.25 million tonnes in 2011. Back in 2000, Africa’s imports represented almost four per cent of world exports but by 2011, this figure had expanded to 10 per cent.

As can be seen from Table 2, the leading importers in 2011 were South Africa with nearly 300,000 tonnes, Angola with 287,000 tonnes, Ghana 155,000 tonnes, Benin 104,000 tonnes and the Congo 79,000 tonnes. However, USDA estimates for this year (Table 3 and Figure 1) indicate that South Africa may purchase almost 400,000 tonnes, of chicken meat, Angola 330,000 tonnes, Ghana 172,000 tonnes, Benin 125,000 tonnes and the Congo 100,000 tonnes.

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Despite South Africa’s imports having escalated dramatically since 2008, domestic production has managed to expand, the growth over the period 2002 to 2012 averaging 3.4 per cent per year. Total poultry meat imports in 2012 exceeded 404,000 tonnes or 15 per cent more than in 2011. Chicken meat imports at 371,000 tonnes with an increase of 14 per cent accounted for almost 92 per cent of the poultry meat total. South Africa’s chicken meat imports represented some 20 per cent of total market supplies in that year.

Almost 52 per cent of South Africa’s chicken imports came from Brazil, the quantity being greatly influenced by exchange rate dynamics, Brazil’s competitive advantages in terms of climate, feed costs, economies of scale and, according to the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), government support. Other major suppliers were the Netherlands with nearly 15 per cent, Argentina 7.7 per cent, the United Kingdom 6.8 per cent and Germany 6.1 per cent.

Taken as a unit, European Union member countries accounted for 34 per cent of South Africa’s chicken meat imports. Of total imports, 44 per cent were frozen bone-in portions some 70 per cent of which came from EU countries. This represents an increase of almost 29 per cent on the year. The Netherlands was the leading supplier here with 31.8 per cent, followed by Brazil with 22.2 per cent. Mechanically deboned meat (MDM) accounted for 35.4 per cent of total imports (up 7 per cent), with Brazil supplying almost 93 per cent and Argentina 4 per cent.

It is anticipated that South Africa’s chicken imports will come close to 400,000 tonnes in 2013.

At the end of September 2013, South Africa raised the tariffs on five categories of imported chicken products but because of a free trade agreement between the EU and South Africa, the increases will only hit those suppliers from outside the EU. South African producers claim that most of the problems in the local market stem from imports of EU products and SAPA has applied to the International Trade Commission for the use of the safeguard measures provided for in the EU-South Africa agreement to deal with what the Association claims is dumping.

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Angola is the second largest importer in the region, with receipts currently likely to be in the region of 330,000 tonnes.

Ghana, Benin and the Congo each also purchase sizeable quantities currently in excess of 100,000 tonnes a year. Interestingly, since 2009, it appears that Benin has become involved in the export business shipping up to some 42,000 tonnes a year although much of this could be just passing through the country on the way to its final destination.

Figure 1. Leading chicken meat importers in Africa ('000 tonnes)

Australia to Export More

Oceania has little involvement with either exports or imports of chicken meat, the annual quantities amounting to around 33,000 tonnes and 60,000 tonnes respectively.

In 2011 (Table 5), the last year for which data is available for every country, the main importing nation in the region was French Polynesia, which took nearly 14,000 tonnes followed by Samoa with 11,000 tonnes, Tonga (9,500 tonnes) and New Caledonia (8,500 tonnes).

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Two countries dominate the export trade in this region, Australia shipping some 30,000 tonnes in 2011 and New Zealand whose exports average around 4,000 tonnes a year (Table 6).

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, exports were expected to fall in 2012-13 as a result of temporary import bans imposed by Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia as these countries reacted to an outbreak of avian influenza (H7N7) on an egg farm in New South Wales. Assuming that these bans will be withdrawn, exports are expected to resume their upward trend in 2012-14, reaching around 42,500 tonnes in 2017-18.

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November 2013

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