UAE's Poultry Sector Growing, but Imports Still Considerable

UAE - The poultry sector in the UAE continues to grow modestly, but imports are still making up the most important part of poultry market demand there, according to a recent report from the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
calendar icon 26 October 2015
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Total UAE 2015 domestic poultry meat production is expected to reach 45,000 metric tonnes, an increase of 5 per cent over the previous year. Production in 2016 is expected to reach 46,000 MT.

According to the report, the poultry production sector in the UAE continues to face serious challenges with diseases being the greatest problem.

Old disease strains have mutated to new strains, particularly low pathogenic avian influenza, which complicates the situation for the producers. Migratory birds and wild animals also contribute to the movement of diseases to farms.

As a result, mortality is reported to be as high as 25 per cent on some farms, but in general it is estimated at about 12 per cent. Diseases will continue to pose big threats to producers.

All locally produced chicken are Halal slaughtered. Hand slaughtering is the most common slaughtering practice. Stunning is not allowed in poultry according to UAE law, the report said.

As a result, the movement of the birds during slaughtering complicates the slaughtering process, with producers ending up having a large number of birds with broken wings, legs and other damages which has resulted in the downgrading of 15 per cent of the production.

Poultry producers have to import day old chicks as there are insufficient locally-produced chicks, which is another challenge for the sector.

In the absence of subsidies from the federal government, poultry producers face fierce competition from their counterparts in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi which provides 25 per cent subsidy to its poultry farmers for Select feed purchases. The movement of Abu Dhabi produced feed to other UAE emirates is not permitted and considered illegal.

Almost 95 per cent of poultry production is of whole chicken which is sold chilled. During the summer months when sales usually drop, nearly 5 per cent of the production is sold frozen. Local production covers about 15 per cent of the UAE’s total market demand. The remaining 85 per cent is imported.

Boneless chicken is imported mainly for restaurants consumption, particularly the Shawarma stands. Ducks are imported around the year, but they are generally used mostly in far eastern cuisine. Whole turkey is also imported during the year, but demand for this product surges during the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turkey parts are imported for further processing, especially smoked turkey breast.

Mechanically separated chicken and turkey meats are also imported for further processing of chicken/turkey rolls and franks.

The report lists Brazil as the most important source of foreign poultry meat in the country.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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