The leading market for U.S. chicken leg exports in January through March 2012 was South Korea, holding steady as the top market since 2010, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service. The country imported 15,000 metric tons of chicken legs in the first quarter of 2012, up 20 percent from the same time in 2011.

Taiwan was the second-largest importer in the first quarter, with 13,000 metric tons of chicken legs — a 95 percent increase over the same quarter in 2011, when the country imported 7,000 metric tons, according to the report. Japan and Hong Kong had the most significant negative differences in imports between the first quarter of 2011 and the same quarter in 2012, dropping 78 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Japan imported 2,000 metric tons of chicken legs in 2011 but none in the first quarter of 2012, while Hong Kong imported 5,000 metric tons in 2011 and only 2,000 in 2012.

Mexico's chicken leg imports from the U.S. increased 19 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2011 (from 2,000 metric tons to 3,000 metric tons), in spite of an ongoing anti-dumping case between the two countries. The final determination in the case, which involves U.S. fresh, chilled or frozen chicken leg quarters, has not yet been released. However, under Mexican law, a final determination will have to be reached by August 2012.

For more poultry information and statistics, see www.wattagnet.com/marketdata.html.