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Major trends in global poultry sector reviewed

28 September 2014

According to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) review of the global poultry sector, world poultry production and consumption are expected to grow by 31.6%, reaching 119.4 million tonnes by 2023 (from 90.7 million tonnes in 2012). Over the same period, world trade in poultry meat is expected to increase by 31.3%, from 10.8 million tonnes to 14.2 million tonnes.

A major increase in production is foreseen in India (+102.1%), with a 40.1% increase in Brazilian production, a 33.4% increase in Chinese production, a 24.5% increase in US production and a 7.4% increase in EU poultry meat production.

In terms of trade, in 2012 the top four poultry exporting countries accounted for 88% of poultry exports (see table), with this share projected to fall to 83% by 2023. EU exports of poultry meat are projected to fall by 6% between 2012 and 2023, according to USDA. This will see the EU’s share of the global poultry meat export trade fall from 11% in 2012 to 7% in 2023. In contrast, Brazilian and US poultry meat exports are projected to increase by 32% and 17% respectively, while Argentinian and Thai poultry meat exports are projected to increase by 85% and 79% respectively.

Poultry exports by selected countries (tonnes)

Exporter 2012 2023 % change
Brazil 3,678,000 4,867,000 +32
USA 3,662,000 4,272,000 +17
EU 1,245,000 1,176,000 –6
Thailand 538,000 964,000 +79
China 411,000 560,000 +36
Argentina 291,000 538,000 +85
Turkey 285,000 618,000 +117
Total global exports 10,790,000 14,163,000 +31.3

Source: USDA, 29 July 2014 (see below)

China and Mexico are projected to increase their imports by 50% and 82% respectively, while Russia (–77%), the EU (–3%) and Japan (–7%) are projected to import less poultry meat.

According to analysis from the joint-agency Livestock Data Innovation in Africa Project, “demand for livestock products in Africa is anticipated not only to grow fast, but also more quickly than in other regions of the world.” This has the potential to “generate major business opportunities for livestock producers”. It is estimated that between the period 2005–07 and 2030, demand for poultry meat in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 24%, with demand increasing more than fourfold by 2050. It was noted that at present, “local producers are unable to meet current demands and will find it increasingly challenging to satisfy the growing needs for animal protein.” Unless a major effort is made to put production growth on a different path, Africa will become increasingly a net importer of poultry meat.

This is becoming more recognised. For example, in Ghana the government is looking to expand financial assistance to local poultry producers, while remaining reluctant to meet producers’ demands for a ban on poultry imports so long as domestic production cannot meet growing local demand. 

Editorial comment

In the next 10 years, the international trade in poultry meat is projected to continue to grow, but with some major changes in the direction of trade. The EU and Russia will decline in importance as export markets, while new exporters will rise to compete with the big four in serving growing global demand. African markets will increase in importance as destinations for major poultry meat exporters, while both Caribbean and Pacific island nations will face increased challenges from US and Brazilian exporters.

Across the ACP, the debate rages on the relative weight to be given to trade policy measures in promoting domestic poultry meat production to respond to rising consumer demand. Across the ACP common challenges are faced in dealing with the trade in residual frozen poultry parts – these have no economic value on OECD markets, but the trade in them can severely undermine local poultry markets throughout the ACP.

Different ACP governments have adopted widely differing policies in response to this trade challenge in their efforts to support national poultry sector development. Given the common problem they face, there would appear to be a case for facilitating greater dialogue between national poultry associations across the ACP on the experience of managing poultry trade in the interests of both national producers and consumers.


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