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EU poultry sector resilient

15 April 2012

The European Commission’s ‘Short term outlook for arable crops, meat and dairy markets’ of February 2012 has revealed that despite an overall contraction in EU meat consumption, poultry meat consumption increased slightly in 2011. EU poultry meat consumption is expected to increase by 0.8% in 2012, with net production growing by 0.6% in 2012 and 0.7% in 2013. EU poultry meat exports are projected to decline by 1.2% in 2012, with this trend continuing into 2013. However, by 2013 EU poultry meat exports will still be 32.5% higher than in 2009, and only 3.4% lower than their 2011 peak. EU poultry meat imports meanwhile are expected to stabilise at levels above those prevailing in 2010 (+1.8%) but below the levels of 2009 (-6%).

EU27 Production, consumption and exports of poultry meat for 2009–2013 (in tonnes carcass weight)

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Gross production 11,658,000 12,085,000 12,228,000 12,307,000 12,344,000
Net production 11,652,000 12,077,000 12,221,000 12,300,000 12,380,000
Consumption 11,578,000 11,719,000 11,744,000 11,839,000 11,906,000
Meat imports 849,000 784,000 803,000 803,000 793,000
Live imports 0 1 1 1 1
Meat exports 929,000 1,149,000 1,287,000 1,271,000 1,231,000
Live exports 7 8 8 8 8

Source:  EC, ‘Short term outlook for arable crop, meat and dairy markets’, February 2012.

The report shows that world demand for poultry meat is growing in all regions except the USA.

In the EU, developments need to be seen in the context of fears that EU policy on the use of GM crops may be undermining the competitiveness of EU poultry producers in an era of rising global cereals and soya prices.

In terms of destinations for the higher levels of EU poultry exports, USDA analysis suggests that the EU will be the principal beneficiary of the expected reversal in 2012 of the dramatic decline in Russian poultry meat imports, following market opening commitments under WTO rules. USDA foresees a 44% increase in Russian poultry meat imports in 2012. This follows 5 years of reduced tariff-rate quota access and the strict application of SPS standards with a view to supporting major investment in domestic Russian poultry production.

Editorial comment

The WTO-induced opening of the Russian poultry meat market from which the EU is expected to benefit could serve to ease pressure on West African markets from EU whole chicken exports. However, West African markets may continue to experience pressure from an elevated level of exports of poultry parts, linked to the expanding level of exports of EU poultry consumption (+2.8% from 2009 to 2013 on a steadily rising trend) and a continued European consumer preference for poultry breast meat.

With Brazilian exporters showing growing interest in African markets and the US an ongoing presence, any easing of pressure arising from reduced levels of expansion of EU exports will in no way reduce the need for the elaboration of coherent and consistent poultry-sector trade policies at both national and regional levels.

In this context, it should be noted that Ghanaian poultry farmers have recently called on the government to establish policies to encourage the major poultry importing companies to invest in local poultry production. Policy lessons could potentially be drawn from the Namibian horticultural sector experience: as part of a broader market information programme which sought to improve links between producers and traders and retailers, import licences were used in a transparent and targeted fashion to require traders and retailers to progressively increase the level of local purchases prior to importing. This saw the share of the local market served by local producers in the affected commodities increase from 5% to 25% within 5 years. This significantly strengthenened the functioning of local supply chains, with retailers now actively promoting local horticultural products as part of their good corporate citizenship initiatives.  


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