Rising Exports Boost Turkey's Poultry Industry

TURKEY - Rising exports are bringing hope to the ailing Turkish poultry sector, which has been hard hit by falling domestic demand.
calendar icon 20 April 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

Turkish poultry producers are hopeful that they will be able to stay afloat amidst nose-diving demand due to an economic depression in global markets, according to Todays Zaman.

Turkey's poultry exports in the first quarter of 2009 increased by 254 per cent over the same period the year before. In 2008, the sector's exports stood at $87 million. While exports of chicken rose 204 per cent to $26.2 million, exports of turkey climbed 371 per cent to $498,000 in the same period.

Turkey's largest poultry exports in first quarter of 2009 went to Iraq, with $19 million, a 16.6 per cent increase over same period of 2008. Iraq was followed by Tajikistan with $1.7 million in exports, Azerbaijan with $1.7 million, Vietnam with $1.1 million and Congo with $551,000. However Turkey's poultry exports to the Far East declined by 7 per cent to $5.8 million in the same period. China was among the biggest importers of poultry, particularly chicken feet.

Poultry Meat Producers and Breeders Association (BESD-BIR) Secretary-General, Yüce Canoler, said on 19 April in Bursa that this record increase in poultry exports was primarily due to demand from Iraq. "Iraq used to import poultry from Brazil until recently, when they started to face problems with delivery. Following this, they have turned to Turkey. We provide the Iraqi market with fresh poultry, and they choose to buy from us instead of purchasing frozen goods from Brazil. Proximity is another important factor," he explained, adding, "We hope poultry trade between the two countries will continue improving."

Mr Canoler said they are planning to open up to the other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"We see the Iraqi market as a door opening to the Arab world. We have achieved enough success and experience in promoting and popularizing Turkish poultry goods in Iraq. I believe the other Middle East and Gulf countries will like our products once they see the quality we offer," he noted, adding that they hope the Ministry of Agriculture will support their efforts to this end. Stressing that Saudi Arabia and the UAE import a total of 700,000 tons of poultry per year on average, Turkey, as a Muslim country, has an advantage over countries such as Brazil in these markets because they buy only buy halal meat – meat slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.

Chance to return to EU markets

On EU sanctions on Turkish poultry, Mr Canoler told Todays Zaman that France, the Netherlands and Romania have recently approved seven facilities in Turkey to which they have sent inspectors in advance. Following Ankara's decision to ban red meat imports from the EU following the emergence of mad cow disease, the EU stopped buying meat and milk products from Turkey.

Mr Canoler also said they would like to initiate poultry exports to Russia – a market in which they see huge potential – as soon as possible. "We are looking forward to a Russian commission coming to inspect 12 facilities in Turkey," he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, seeing the potential for exports to Russia, suggested last year that their Russian counterparts send inspectors to facilities in Turkey. Russia halted poultry imports from the US following last year's conflict in Georgia.

Mr Canoler said some Turkish poultry producers have had to sell products at cost or lower since November 2007 due to heavy contraction in the domestic market. "A kilogram of chicken is sold for 4.5 lira (TRY) on average. The producers make only 25 kurus [cents] in profit per kilogram, considering the cost of production, transportation and value-added tax. There have been times when we sold chicken for TRY 2 per kilogram while it cost us TRY 3. Many companies had to shut down for this reason last year. We hope the remaining firms will have a chance to heal their wounds thanks to the increase in exports," he told Todays Zaman.

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