Global poultry markets rebounding - Rabobank

Trade is getting more competitive
calendar icon 3 July 2024
clock icon 3 minute read

According to the latest animal protein report by Rabobank, the outlook for global poultry markets is further improving, driven by accelerated growth in poultry meat consumption, ranging from 1.5% to 2%, and disciplined supply growth in many markets. After four years of highly disruptive conditions, global poultry markets are moving toward more “normal” market conditions. Global trade is expected to become more competitive than in the past two years due to shifts in trade flows.

Global poultry prices remain strong

Despite a 2% increase in global chicken prices, chicken remains a competitively priced protein option, as prices of pork and beef have increased by 4% and 5%, respectively. However, operations remain a critical area of focus for producers. 

Feed prices have hit their lowest point after two years of decline, and have increased for the first time in two years (+1%) due to weaker-than-expected harvest predictions in Brazil, North America, and Europe. According to Nan-Dirk Mulder, Senior Analyst – Animal Protein at Rabobank, strong emphasis on procuring feed ingredients and optimising feed formulations will be necessary, particularly considering the risk of a La Niña season on global crop harvests, which could affect major grain producers.

Strong local market conditions are driving global growth

“Most of this global growth has been driven by strong local market conditions rather than trade. This is particularly true for emerging markets in Southeast and South Asia, Africa, and Latin America,” said Mulder. “Lower feed prices have made chicken more affordable, supporting demand recovery.” 

The EU and the US are performing well this year, with relatively strong demand, controlled production growth, and rising prices. The main exceptions to this relatively strong market environment are China and Japan, where the industry has experienced overly ambitious growth rates above 3% this year, which negatively impacted local profitability. Brazil had also been heading toward an oversupply, but recent production cuts are expected to help balance the markets.

Chia's lower import volumes will shake up global trade, increasing competition 

In Q1 2024, global poultry trade dropped by 5% YOY, with a 40% reduction in Chinese imports being a notable cause. 

"The weak and oversupplied domestic chicken market in China was the primary driver behind this significant drop in trade. Key exporters to China – Brazil, the US, and Russia – have all felt this decline,” noted Mulder. “We expect that these countries will seek alternative markets to offset the impact of reduced Chinese trade, particularly affecting chicken feet and leg markets.” 

Additionally, the new EU import quota for Ukraine will impact global trade in breast meat and whole chicken, particularly as Ukraine will increasingly look for alternative markets.

Rising concerns in Southern Hemisphere due to avian influenza

Avian influenza remains a critical concern for the poultry industry globally, requiring an ongoing strong focus on biosecurity practices to mitigate risks. Risks are currently shifting back into the Southern Hemisphere, with recent outbreaks in Australia and ongoing cases in South Africa and Latin America. These outbreaks could lead to sudden shifts in trade flows, both for imports and exports.

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