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Will Russia’s Increased Poultry Demand Be Met?

by 5m Editor
25 January 2010, at 11:10a.m.

TURKEY - Following a recent decision by the Russian government to increase its poultry imports from Turkey to 500,000 tons annually, Turkish poultry producers have voiced concerns that the sector may not actually be able to meet this demand.

Sector representatives say Turkey can meet only a small part of Russia’s poultry requirements.

As part of incentives to increase mutual trade following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent visit to the Russian capital, Minister of Agriculture Mehdi Eker announced that Russia has agreed to increase its poultry imports from Turkey to 500,000 tons annually, bringing in some $1 billion.

Poultry Meat Producers and Poulterers Association (BESD-BİR) President Zuhal Daştan told Today’s Zaman on Friday that Turkish poultry producers could meet “only some part” of the increased demand from Russia. Daştan asserted that the revised amount was five times Turkey’s total annual poultry exports. “Turkey produces 1.2 million tons of poultry on average in a year. But a considerable part of this goes to the domestic market. I don’t think Turkey’s annual poultry exports to Russia could exceed 100,000 tons.”

Recalling that Russia plans to completely halt poultry imports in the next five years, Daştan said Turkish producers will have to focus on the domestic market to survive. “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,” the BESD-BİR head pointed out. She noted that poultry demand in Turkey has noticeably increased in the past few years. Daştan said Russia currently allows imports from only six Turkish poulterers and added that this number should be increased to at least 10.

According to Sait Koca, general manager of Beypiliç, one of Turkey’s leading poultry producers, a decline in poultry exports to Russia would not harm Turkish exporters since the country has several other alternative markets in which to sell their products. “Russia should first elaborate their demands. We do not know yet which poultry products they want to buy from us. They need to clarify these details.” The Beypiliç manager recalled that Turkey has increased its poultry exports to Iraq. “Saudi Arabian officials are expected to hold talks to start poultry imports from Turkey in March. These countries and others in the Middle East, I think, have relatively higher potential in regards to poultry exports,” he told Today’s Zaman.

Observers argue that Turkish poultry exporters have a better chance of increasing their share in Russian poultry imports than other competing would-be exporters, with geographic proximity and high quality in production processes their two major advantages. In another opportunity for Turkish companies, Russia halted poultry imports from the US in August. Russia used to import some 600,000 tons of poultry annually from the US and now needs to compensate for this gap.