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EU poultry sector developments and prospects

22 April 2013

According to the EC’s report, ‘Prospects for agricultural markets and income in the EU 2012–2020’ published in December 2012, EU poultry production rose by 1.8% in 2011 in response to higher demand, as consumers switched from other more expensive meats to poultry. This trend continued into 2012.

EU poultry meat imports “recorded a 3% decrease in the period between January and August 2012” compared to January–August 2011, despite a resumption of imports of Thai frozen salted poultry meat under a tariff-rate quota of 92,000 tonnes.

From January to August 2012, “exports registered an increase of around 2%, due to higher demand from African countries.” While exports to Russia and Asia decreased (-6% and -31% respectively), EU exports to South Africa showed “a 74% increase”.

Poultry meat: EU production, consumption, imports and exports (tonnes, carcass weight equivalent)

  Gross Production Consumption Exports Imports
2009 11,630,000 11,544,000 935,000 849,000
2010 12,147,000 11,774,000 1,158,000 784,000
2011 12,369,000 11,895,000 1,295,000 821,000
2012 12,610,000 12,072,000 1,360,000 822,000
2013 12,806,000 12,238,000 1,376,000 808,000
2014 12,712,000 12,156,000 1,367,000 811,000
2015 12,713,000 12,125,000 1,406,000 818,000
2016 12,656,000 12,077,000 1,400,000 821,000
2017 12,754,000 12,191,000 1,385,000 822,000
2018 12,784,000 12,253,000 1,351,000 820,000
2019 12,800,000 12,295,000 1,328,000 823,000
2020 12,824,000 12,328,000 1,322,000 826,000
2021 12,858,000 12,361,000 1,326,000 829,000
2022 12,912,000 12,407,000 1,337,000 832,000

Source: EC ‘Prospects for agricultural markets…’, December 2012, Table 7.26, ‘Poultry meat market projections for the EU, 2009-2022’

In 2022, EU poultry meat production is projected to be 4.4% higher than in 2011, “driven by higher global and domestic demand”. This reflects the greater adaptability of the poultry sector to “market shocks, both on the demand and the supply side”. In 2022, EU production is projected to be 11% higher than in 2009 and consumption 7.5% higher, giving rise in 2022 to exports that are 43% higher than in 2009. This, however, all takes place on a variable annual trend. Up to 2022, EU poultry imports are projected to be broadly stable, around the import volumes prevailing in 2011 (821,000 tonnes), varying between 808,000 tonnes (2013) and 832,000 (2022).

EU exports are expected to remain strong “due to growing world demand, especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East”. The EC analysis notes that “EU exports would be mainly concentrated on the lower-quality segment, i.e. the parts which do not find an outlet on the domestic market.” 

Editorial comment

Trends in EU poultry exports provide the background to the South African government’s decision to shift from using anti-dumping duties to fully exploiting the water within their bound tariff ceiling for poultry products. However, the CEO of the South African Poultry Association maintains that “other measures” will be needed to deal with imports from the EU, given the tariff elimination commitments in the EU–South Africa Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (for more details on EU trade with South Africa, see Agritrade article ‘EU’s poultry exports to South Africa rise dramatically’, forthcoming).

The growing importance of African markets to EU poultry exporters should come as no surprise, given the long-standing interest of European meat exporters in the commercial potential of African markets for sales of lower-quality meat cuts for which there is no domestic outlet in the EU. This applies to both poultry parts and “fifth quarter” beef cuts.

This raises important trade policy challenges for African policy makers. Should they allow free access to these cheap meat cuts (while ensuring food safety), to provide a low-cost source of protein for urban consumers, or should they restrict their access so as not to undermine the domestic poultry and beef production sectors?

While each ACP government has to make its own choices with regard to policy priorities, all ACP governments have a common interest in retaining the right to flexibly apply tariffs within their bound ceilings. This can be seen as an essential part of wider agricultural development strategies aimed at enhancing food security and developing local value-added processing.


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