This makes the second consecutive year of record exports for the U.S. In 2007, poultry and egg exports increased by 41% over 2006.

Also, for the first time, exports of all poultry and egg products in 2008 passed the $5 billion milestone. The total, which reached $5.05 billion, up 24% over the previous year, includes non-food items such as live breeding stock, hatching eggs and feathers and down, according to trade data compiled by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Broiler meat exports (excluding chicken paws) for 2008 set a new record in both quantity and value. Export quantity reached 3.2 million metric tons, up 18% over 2007, while export value reached $3.5 billion, $777 million or 28% ahead of the previous year, said Dr. Renan Zhuang, director of economic analysis at the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC).

U.S. turkey meat exports also established records in both volume and value in 2008. Total turkey meat exports last year reached 306,787 tons, up 24% from 2007, in large part because of increased import demand by Mexico and China. Export value in 2008 soared to $481.9 million, an increase of 21% from previous year, said Zhuang, who analyzes U.S. industry data for USAPEEC.

Broiler exports less concentrated

For U.S. broilers, exports have become increasingly less concentrated, said Zhuang. Volume to the top three markets last year – Russia, China, and Mexico – totaled 1,464,625 tons. The combined share of broiler exports to the Big Three was 46% in 2008, compared to 52% a year earlier. While export volume to Russia for the year decreased by 4%, volume to China and Mexico increased by 12% and 27%, respectively.

Zhuang said that monthly U.S. broiler meat shipments to all destinations in 2008 increased year-on-year over 2007 in every month but November. Total broiler meat exports for the first half of 2008 were 1.5 million tons, up 20% year on year. Exports for the second half of 2008 were 1.7 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 16% and an increase of 11% from the first half of 2008.

Also, broiler meat export prices in the second half of 2008 increased about 6% from the first half of 2008, even as the world economy entered into a severe economic downturn, Zhuang said.

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For chicken paws, U.S. exports in 2008 reached 508,735 tons, an increase of 19% from 2007. Export value reached $339.5 million, an increase of $68.1 million or 25% over the previous year.

Of the total, 83% of U.S. paws exported were shipped to China, while 15% were shipped to Hong Kong. That is, about 81% of the chicken paws produced in the U.S. were harvested for export to China in 2008, Zhuang said. The increase in paw exports to China is partially because of the relatively lower export prices. While the average export price (unit value) for chicken paws in China increased by 6%, the export price for other broiler meat products exported to China increased by 11%.

Exports of turkey meat to Mexico, the top market for U.S. turkey, reached 162,545 tons, an increase of 19% from the previous year. Meanwhile, U.S. turkey exports to China, the second-leading destination, reached 38,838 tons, an increase of 78% from 2007. Exports to Russia, the third-leading market, were 11,819 tons, down 15% from a year earlier. Turkey exports to other markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Dominican Republic, and Haiti also increased significantly.

Value of table eggs, processed egg products up slightly

Although the combined export value of U.S. table eggs and processed egg products in 2008 set a new record of $142.2 million, up 3% from the previous year, export volume of table eggs, declined by 27%, to 57.5 million dozen. Export value of table eggs dipped from $63.4 million in 2007 to $50.81 million in 2008, down 20%.

Even though table egg exports to Canada increased by 42% from 2007, exports to many other important markets, such as Hong Kong, decreased significantly.

For egg products, 2008 export value reached $91.4 million, an increase of $17.2 million or 23% from the previous year. Exports to Japan, the top export market for U.S. egg products, increased significantly from $25.27 million in 2007 to $38.07 million in 2008, an increase of 51%.