International Egg and Poultry Review: Venezuela

VENEZUELA - By the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This is a weekly report looking at international developments concerning the poultry industry. This week's report focuses on the Venezuelan poultry situation.
calendar icon 22 October 2009
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Poultry is the meat of choice of Venezuelan consumers. It remains the most available and cheapest source of animal protein as compared to beef and pork. According to figures presented by FENAVI (the Venezuelan Poultry Federation), between 2007 and 2008 annual per capita consumption increased from 33 kilograms to 35 kilograms. About 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the poultry produced in Venezuela is purchased fresh by households.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (BRV) imposed a price control policy on basic food and processed food products in 2003. Chicken and poultry products fall under these price controls. Venezuela produces and consumes small amounts of duck and turkey, thus the majority of poultry is chicken. The latest revision of prices was done in April 2008, and current poultry prices are presented below:

Large stores, such as the hypermarkets, supermarket chains, and established butcher shops are required to sell products at the established price on the price control list. Charging more than the official controlled price is illegal and leads to steep fines and possibly temporary closures of poultry facilities, supermarkets and hypermarkets.

Venezuela’s estimated 2009 poultry production is 920,000 metric tons, down three per cent from 944,120 metric tons in 2008. Production is expected to decline again in 2010 in response to price controls and high feed costs. Venezuela’s poultry producers work very closely with the animal feed processors, through vertical integration within the industry. The trend is toward greater concentration of farms and processors. All animal feed is domestically produced from a combination of imported and domestic inputs. Feed represents about 80 per cent of total production costs, which continue to move with the price of imported inputs.

Venezuela’s poultry industry says that it can supply 100 per cent of demand, but cannot demonstrate this as long as imports continue. The government’s imports from Brazil are not subject to tariff or custom charges and do not require foreign exchange applications. Imports are only conducted by the government. Venezuela has a tariff rate quota for poultry products (H.S. 0207) at 3,426 metric tons. Since 1993, the BRV has effectively barred imports of unprocessed poultry meat from any country that could not or would not certify to being free of both low and high path avian influenza.

Source: USDA FAS Attaché Report

United States Requests WTO Panel in Challenge of EU Restrictions on US Poultry Exports

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on 8 October 2009 that the United States had asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a dispute settlement panel regarding the European Union's (EU) restrictions on imports of US poultry. The United States has asked the panel to review whether the EU's ban on the import and marketing of poultry meat and poultry meat products processed with pathogen reduction treatments (PRTs) judged safe by US and European food safety authorities is consistent with the EU's WTO obligations.

Current European regulations dictate that any meat that is sold within the EU - regardless of where the meat came from - can only be rinsed with water or an approved substance. In a statement on Thursday the European Trade Commission said “This rule is part of wider EU legislation ensuring a high level of safety throughout the food chain, from farm to fork.”

The European Commission says it does not target US chicken, and applies the same rules to domestic and imported poultry. The EU says imports of poultry from the US have been "marginal" since 1997, when Brussels removed several US establishments from its list of authorized slaughterhouses. More than 890,000 tons of poultry were imported from third countries in 2008, mainly from Brazil and Thailand. (Following their successful WTO case in 2005, Brazil and Thailand got a tariff rate quota (TRQ) for imports of salted poultry meat, preparations of turkey meat and cooked chicken meat into the EU-27 in July 2007.)

In January 2009 the United States requested consultations with the EU, regarding certain measures of the EC affecting poultry meat and poultry meat products from the United States. A review of the formal consultations, held on 11 February, failed to resolve the issue. Establishing a panel is the second stage in the dispute settlement process. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the request of the United States for the establishment of a panel at its next meeting, which is scheduled for 23 October.

The ongoing dispute began in 1997, when the EU began prohibiting the use of PRTs to reduce microbe levels on poultry carcasses sold in the EU, virtually stopping the shipment of all US poultry.

In 2002, the United States had formally requested EU approval of four PRTs: chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, each of which was already approved for use in poultry processing by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture.

Various EU agencies have issued scientific reports relating to the processing of poultry with these four PRTs. The cumulative conclusion of these reports was that the importation and consumption of such poultry posed no risk to human health. In 2008 the European Commission proposed allowing EU producers to use PRTs, but a committee comprised of the chief veterinary officers of the EU Member States rejected the proposal 26-0, with Great Britain abstaining. The EU Agricultural and Fisheries Council, which is comprised of the agriculture ministers of the EU member States, voted against the same proposal in an identical tally.

Source: USTR Press Release; World Trade Organization; BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 13 No. 35 14 October 2009; news wires

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