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Poultry exports to Africa on the rise

09 December 2012

A report, ‘Global poultry trends 2012’, has been prepared for the website Thepoultrysite.com and published in October 2012. The report notes that ‘African countries are becoming increasingly active participants’ in global poultry trade: in 2000, African poultry imports amounted to only 260,000 tonnes out of a total global trade of 6.9 million tonnes (3.77% of total global trade), but by 2009 this had risen to 763,000 tonnes out of a total of 10.7 million tonnes (about 7.1% of total global trade).

Available data for 2011 and estimates for 2012 suggest that total African poultry meat imports have increased still further, reaching a total of 1,233,000 tonnes in 2011, with 1,300,000 tonnes forecast for 2012, an estimated 11% of world trade (of around 12 million tonnes).

According to USDA, sub-Saharan Africa ‘was the fourth most important market for US broiler and turkey exports’ in 2011, as imports to this region rose ‘from 500,000 tonnes in 2001 to just over a million tonnes in 2011’. Angola and South Africa are the most important markets, forecast to account for 60% of total sub-Saharan African chicken meat imports in 2012.

Between 2009 and 2011, chicken meat imports into South Africa grew by 58% before falling back 8% in 2012, following the introduction of new safeguard restrictions against imports from Brazil. Imports of ‘frozen mechanically deboned meat’ and ‘frozen bone-in portions’ both accounted for around 39% of South African imports in 2011, while ‘frozen boneless portions’ and ‘frozen whole birds or half birds’ both accounted for 8% of imports. Compared to 2010, the largest increase in 2011 was in ‘frozen bone-in portions’ (+81%) and ‘frozen mechanically deboned meat’ (+52%). 

In 2011, some 200,000 tonnes of poultry meat imports into South Africa originated from Brazil. 

The report notes that USDA’s projections of South African imports in 2012 have been questioned, as ‘South Africa's first quarter 2012 imports were 36 per cent higher than in the same period a year ago’, with 55% of these imports coming from Brazil, 15% from the Netherlands, 7% from the UK, 6% from Germany and nearly 5% from Argentina. 

Imports of chicken meat into Angola have continued to increase since 2009, rising 86% between 2009 and estimated 2012 figures. Exports to Angola and South Africa are both forecast at 300,000 tonnes for 2012. 

The forecast figures for 2012 show five sub-Saharan countries accounting for an estimated 70% of total African chicken meat imports. 

Leading chicken meat importers in Africa (’000 tonnes)

  2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011E 2012F
Angola 49 103 130 138 171 161 239 288 300
Benin 40 29 29 46 67 77 98 104 114
DRC 15 38 43 51 39 47 60 68 75
Ghana 12 51 57 75 72 79 109 139 120
South Africa 72 189 214 239 191 206 240 326 300
Africa 259 513 612 680 705 763 995 1,233 1,300

Note: E = estimate; F = forecast

Source: Thepoultrysite.com, ‘Global poultry trends 2012’, October 2012 (see below), Table 2, drawn from USDA figures and author’s estimates

The report also observes that ‘Although the annual volumes are not large when compared with the leading buyers, … purchases by virtually every other African country have expanded significantly since 2000.’ 

Meanwhile, according to the EC’s September 2012 short-term market outlook report, the expansion of EU27 poultry meat exports, which began in 2009, will continue into 2012 and 2013, with poultry meat exports forecast to be 47.3% higher in 2013 than in 2009. This will be supported by a further expansion of EU poultry production. 

EU poultry-meat balance sheet (’000 tonnes carcass weight, excluding live trade)

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Consumption 11,544 11,774 11,895 12,072 12,237
Net production 11,624 12,140 12,362 12,603 12,800
Meat imports 849 784 820 820 805
Meat exports 929 1,149 1,287 1,352 1,368

Source: EC, ‘Short term outlook’, September 2012 (see below), extracted from Table 2.4

Editorial comment

While Brazil has a major presence in the South African and Angolan markets, and has a growing presence in West African markets, EU exports of poultry meat to African markets have also been expanding (see Agritrade article ‘ EU poultry exports continue to grow within shifting global patterns of d...’, 9 September 2012). With a continuation in the expansion of EU27 poultry meat exports until 2013, developments on the Russian market could begin to have a profound effect on patterns of EU poultry meat exports.

USDA analysis suggests that the expansion of domestic Russian poultry production, existing tariff-rate quotas and imports from fellow customs union countries could well transform Russia into a net exporter of poultry meat. This could leave EU poultry exporters searching for markets elsewhere, particularly in the Western and Southern African regions, to which exports have already been increasing.

The continuing expansion of EU production could create new challenges for sub-Saharan African poultry producers, and trade flows are strongly influenced by the trade policy tools deployed by national governments. For example, in view of Nigeria’s import restrictions, it is reported that the bulk of poultry meat exports to Benin are destined for the Nigerian market. The meat is smuggled overland overnight, and the conditions of transportation raise serious public health concerns (see Agritrade article ‘ Benin an important market for Italian poultry exports’, 9 August 2011).

The impact of the use of trade policy tools on trade is also illustrated by the sharp fall in South African poultry exports to Namibia in the first quarter of 2012, following the introduction of infant industry protection for the newly established Namibian industrial poultry sector.

The importance of the use of trade policy in the poultry sector is highlighted by the EU’s own experience, with EU poultry sector stakeholders expressing the view that ‘in the absence of import tariffs… the EU market would rapidly be influenced by imported products, with EU producers increasingly restricted to supplying niche markets’ (see Agritrade Executive Brief Update, ‘ Poultry sector’, 1 August 2012). The EU operates a highly disaggregated tariff regime, backed up by a price-based special safeguard mechanism that has been permanently invoked (see Agritrade special report ‘ The EU’s agricultural policy toolbox: A sector-by-sector review’, 13 December 2011).


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