Thanks in large part to the poultry and egg industry’s ability to adapt to changing global marketplace dynamics, 2012 was a record-setting year for exports of U.S. poultry meat and eggs.

Combined export value of U.S. poultry meat and eggs reached $5.722 billion in 2012, 12 percent ahead of 2011, the previous record year, according to year-end trade data released by the Foreign Agricultural Service.

“The global landscape is in a constant state of transition,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. “While our traditional markets of Mexico and Russia remained at the top of the broiler markets, there were numerous changes, such as Angola and Taiwan moving into the top 10 broiler markets and Mexico growth as a market for eggs. The greatest benefit for our industry is a much greater balance than we’ve ever before realized.”

Sumner said the U.S. industry, which for years depended on a few behemoths such as Russia and China for a majority of its export sales, is now much less dependent on singular markets as new markets have opened and sales expand to the rest of the world.

“The only constant in the export marketplace is change,” he said. “And fortunately, our industry is very good at adapting to these changes. In 2008, for example, we exported products to 109 countries. In 2012, we shipped to 121 countries.”

For 2012, for example, double-digit declines in shipments of U.S. chicken meat to several markets, including Korea and Vietnam, were more than offset by increased sales to markets such as Mexico, Russia, Angola, Congo, Kazakhstan and Ghana.

The top six markets for U.S. broiler meat exports for 2012 were Mexico, 560,544 tons valued at $641.2 million, up 23 and 42 percent, respectively; Hong Kong, 296,085 tons valued at $396.2 million, down 46 and 47 percent; Russia, 266,995 tons valued at $301.7 million, up 25 and 23 percent; China, 239,897 tons valued at $283 million, up 149 and 137 percent; Angola, 182,027 tons valued at $214.4 million, up 11 and 18 percent; and Canada, 173,037 tons valued at $498.8 million, up 22 and 32 percent.

Last year was also a record-setting year for total U.S. poultry meat exports in both quantity and value. Export value of U.S. poultry climbed to nearly $5.5 billion, 11 percent over 2011, while quantity hit 4.1 million metric tons, up 5 percent. The quantity record was 0.6 percent higher than in 2008, the previous record year.

Meanwhile, 2012 U.S. egg exports also reached record levels. Total exports (table eggs plus processed egg products in shell-egg equivalents) were 274.1 million dozen valued at $263.7 million, up 24 and 35 percent from 2011, respectively.


Broiler meat exports in 2012, excluding chicken paws, set records in both quantity and value, reaching 3.3 million tons valued at $4.2 billion, up respectively 4 and 15 percent from 2011. Compared to the previous record set in 2008, U.S. broiler meat export quantity for 2012 increased by about 1 percent, while value rose by 17 percent.

Exports of chicken paws in 2012 reached 363,974 tons, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year, while export value was $450.1 million, down 10 percent from 2011. Of those exports, 53 percent went to Hong Kong, and 40 percent went to China.

U.S. turkey exports last year also reached record highs, with exports in 2012 climbing to 361,597 tons valued at $678.5 million, up 14 and 13 percent, respectively.

The top U.S. turkey markets are Mexico, 187,201 tons valued at $371.8 million, up 3 and 4 percent, respectively; China, 45,910 tons valued at $70.7 million, up 22 and 32 percent; the Philippines, 14,379 tons valued at $12.9 million, up 167 and 123 percent; Canada, 14,150 tons valued at $31.4 million, up 38 and 29 percent; and Hong Kong, 12,063 tons valued at $20.7 million, down 30 and 17 percent.

For table eggs, exports in 2012 were 127.6 million dozen valued at $122.6 million, up 54 and 59 percent, respectively, both records, and driven by increased shipments to Mexico, Hong Kong, and the European Union.

The top five export markets for table eggs are Hong Kong, 46.7 million dozen, up 30 percent; Canada, 26.1 million dozen, up 19 percent; Mexico, 16.6 million dozen vs. 1.3 million dozen in 2011; the U.A.E., 13 million dozen, up 66 percent; and the EU, 8.9 million dozen vs. 0.78 million dozen in 2011.

For egg products, 2012 was also a record-setting year, as total export value rose by 20 percent to $141 million.

Export value to Japan, the top export market for U.S. egg products, decreased by 28 percent to $45.1 million, accounting for 32 percent of U.S. total export value worldwide. Export value to the EU rose by 88 percent to $38.3 million, while sales to Mexico increased six-fold to $16.5 million. Exports to Canada increased 18 percent to $9.6 million, while exports to South Korea dipped by 7 percent to $4.1 million.

Total egg exports (table eggs plus egg products in shell egg equivalent) in 2012 set records in both volume and value. While export quantity hit 274.1 million dozen, an increase of 24 percent from the previous year, export value reached $263.7 million, up 35 percent from 2011.