GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS 2012 - Europe Exports One Quarter of Global Chicken Meat Traded

12 September 2012, at 12:00a.m.

Europe, as a region, accounts for almost one quarter of unprocessed chicken meat worldwide and nearly all of this is from EU countrues, which also trade significant volumes of meat internally, according to industry watcher, Terry Evans in his analysis of the trends in this trade around the world. Growing self-sufficiency in Russia is reducing imports into that country, while Ukraine is looking to grow its chicken meat exports.

Some 12 million tonnes of frozen, chilled and fresh chicken meat will likely be traded internationally in 2012. This is around 1.3 million tonnes (12 per cent) more than in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available for all countries (Table 1). This shows that exports amounted to 10.7 million tonnes. Of course, to get the complete picture, allowance has to be made for exports of prepared and processed chicken items which, in 2009, were equivalent to some 2.5 million tonnes of chicken meat, giving a grand total for that year of more than 13 million tonnes. The trade in chicken paws is not included in these figures.

Although there are no up-to-date figures on the trade in processed poultry, this could currently be equivalent to almost three million tonnes, which puts the grand total for all chicken meat (again, excluding paws) in the region of 15 million tonnes.

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Disregarding the trade in processed items, in 2009, Europe accounted for almost a quarter of all exports (Table 1) and the business conducted by European Union countries represented 98 per cent of this. Clearly, little chicken meat is exported by non-EU European countries.

According to USDA data, if the trade between EU member countries is excluded, then the volume of chicken meat sold by the EU to third countries in that year amounted to around 765,000 tonnes or only about 30 per cent of the total. EU member states increased total exports of chicken meat by some 750,000 tonnes between 2000 and 2009 to exceed 2.5 million tonnes. Imports into the Community rose by 763,000 tonnes during this period. The quantities exported outside the Community have changed little since 2000 and ranged between 696,000 tonnes and 765,000 tonnes between 2005 and 2009. Since 2009, they have increased and are expected to have exceeded one million tonnes in both 2011 and 2012 (Table 3 and Figure 1), reflecting a strong demand from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

In 2011, the leading export destinations were Hong Kong, followed by Saudi Arabia and Benin. The latter three have markedly expanded their purchases in recent years. However, sales to Russia have contracted sharply and although a slight upward swing occurred in the early part of 2012, the long-term outlook is for a continued decline in exports to this market.

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Within the EU, the leading chicken meat exporters are the Netherlands, followed by France, Belgium and Germany. However, it is noticeable how Poland has emerged as a major player (Table 3), with shipments currently likely to be in the region of 250,000 tonnes.

Incidentally, exports of chicken paws from EU to Hong Kong and China in 2011 are considered to have come close to 80,000 tonnes, according to a USDA GAIN Report.

Figure 1. Leading chicken meat exporters in Europe ('000 tonnes)
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Imports into the EU from third countries are expected to increase in 2012 (Table 3 and Figure 2), though not significantly so. Some 90 per cent of these come from just two countries - Brazil and Thailand. Minor suppliers are Chile and Argentina. Competition from these four is expected to increase.

Since 2004, the Community has banned imports of raw/uncooked chicken meat from Thailand. This resulted in the Thais putting more emphasis on marketing further-processed cooked chicken meat into the EU. However, from 1 July 2012, the EU lifted its ban on imports of fresh meat from Thailand. Back in 2003, the EU took about 98,000 tonnes of uncooked poultry from this source. Some reports indicate that Thailand could ship some 50,000 tonnes to the EU in the second half of 2012.

For poultry meat, the European Commission foresees exports to countries outside the EU of 1.47 million tonnes in 2012 rising to 1.5 million tonnes in 2013 after which the longer-term forecast considers that volumes will show little change in the latter half of the current decade.

Imports of poultry meat from third countries are expected to rise slightly to 850,000 tonnes in 2013, after which they are not expected to show much movement around this figure to 2020. There is a view that imports from Brazil will stagnate in the face of increased competition from Thailand.

Figure 2. Leading chicken meat importers in Europe ('000 tonnes)

Rapid growth in production in Russia has led to a substantial reduction in chicken meat imports from a peak 1.2 million tonnes in 2005 to 912,000 tonnes in 2009 (Table 2). This decline has continued, receipts having contracted in 2011 to around 500,000 tonnes. While a slight recovery to 510,000 tonnes is anticipated for 2012, this will still be 22 per cent below the 656,000 tonnes purchased in 2010. In contrast, another report projects imports of only 400,000 tonnes in 2012, some 20 per cent below the 2011 level. There is concern that, after Russia becomes a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) late in 2012, smaller producers will be unable to compete with imports from the US, Brazil or other European countries. Nevertheless, at least one long-term forecast suggests that poultry meat imports will steadily decline as Russia moves towards self-sufficiency and will amount to little more than 100,000 tonnes or so by 2021.

Despite a temporary setback in the first quarter of 2012, when imports escalated due to a fall in domestic production as the result of increased production costs, the Ukraine anticipates that imports will decline with time. Indeed, this country is making efforts to develop a chicken meat export business with Kazakhstan - its main market - although small amounts are also being sold to Viet Nam, Moldova and Georgia. Ukraine's largest chicken producer, Myronivsky Hliboproduct (MHP), and others whose facilities have been approved by EU regulating authorities are looking to export to the EU. Indeed, MHP believes that it can ship some 20,000 tonnes a year to this market.

September 2012