Turkish Poultry Industry Growth Held Back by GM Rules

TURKEY - Regulations prohibiting the use of genetically modified (GM) feed is reported to be hampering the development of the country's poultry industry.
calendar icon 10 February 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

A jump in feed costs prompted by curbs on genetically modified crops is hampering Turkey's attempts to ramp up poultry production, and fill a void in Russian imports, US officials have said.

According to AgriMoney, Russia, which effectively banned chicken meat imports from the US last month, has said that is interested in exporting up to 500,000 tonnes of Turkish poultry a year, after passing processing standards last week.

However, Turkish poultry farmers have expressed doubts that they will manage to ship more than 100,000 tonnes a year to Russia, thanks to the small size of their industry.

Turkey's Poultry Meat Producers and Poulterers Association (BESD-BIR) said: "Turkey produces 1.2 million tonnes of poultry on average in a year, but a considerable part of this goes to the domestic market."

And efforts to expand export capacity "competitively" are threatened by clamp-downs on genetically modified crops, a report from the US Department of Agriculture's Ankara bureau said.

A ban on imports of GM food and feed crops passed in October sparked a 40 per cent jump to $700 a tonne in soybean prices in November, with costs of distillers grains and corn gluten feed also jumping.

In 2009, exports (and year-on-year change) were as follows: chicken meat and offal, 81,632 tonnes (+70 per cent); chicken paws, 32,511 tonnes (+6.0 per cent); turkey meat: 953 tonnes (-26 per cent); total, 115,099 tonnes (+44 per cent).

Top poultry export markets for Turkish products were: Iraq, chicken meat, $92.6 million (+456 per cent); Vietnam, chicken feet, $23.4 million (-9.3 per cent), and Azerbaijan, turkey, $588,000 (-26 per cent).

And legislation, which is expected to be approved later this year, barring domestic production of biotech crops, could also spur feed price inflation.

"[The laws] could drastically reduce supplies of soy and corn products, consequently raising both the price of feed and poultry production costs", the report said.

Costs of feed, which comprises mainly corn and soybeans, account for 80 per cent of production costs for Turkish poultry groups, the report said.

Omer Gorener, the chief executive of chicken group Banvit, has called on Ankara to subsidise Turkish poultry exports to eliminate their "price disadvantage" with those of some competitors.

Turkey's poultry producers have noted no shortage of opportunities for exports, with China resuming purchases last year after a ban prompted by avian flu concerns, and the European Union clearing imports last August.

According to AgriMoney, although Turkish poultry exports jumped 44 per cent last year, at 115,000 tonnes, they remain well below those of sector giants such as the US, which shipped nearly three million tonnes, and Brazil, which exported 3.15 million tonnes.

Furthermore, some producers have expressed doubts about the long-term wisdom of supplying to Russia, which is targeting self-sufficiency in poultry.

BESD-BIR head, Zuhal Dastan, explained: "Russia is planning to reduce its poultry imports year by year and completely stop importing after five years. This means that the Turkish poultry sector's future lies in other markets."

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