Most people in the U.S. broiler industry likely do not consider the Ukraine as a major competitor for exports, said Peter Pawlenko, director of global poultry, fruits and vegetables at AJC International. But, he told those attending the USPOULTRY Financial Management Seminar on June 24 that they should. With a rapidly growing pace of production, the broiler supply in Ukraine has also grown.

The product that they have is very appealing to the developing countries in Europe, Asia and Africa that are looking to import more poultry. The whole birds produced there range from 3.75 to 5 pounds, but the price per pound is much more appealing at 65 cents per pound, said Pawlenko.

"This product is fresh-frozen from recent production. There's nothing wrong with it. It hasn't been in a freezer for a year," he said. "Oh, and by the way, it's already across the ocean, sitting in a port in the Ukraine."

Adding to the appeal of Ukrainian poultry is that it meets the halal designation, which gives it a competitive advantage over most U.S. poultry for Islamic consumers. Pawlenko said as the world's Islamic population is expected to grow by 25 percent by 2020, it will be even more of an advantage in the future.

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U.S. processors have also been stubborn in the past when it comes to packaging sizes, but the Ukrainian broiler product comes in a smaller, 14 kilogram boxes, making it "the perfect size for international markets," Pawlenko said.

Pawlenko cautioned U.S. processors not to get complacent or overconfident because other developing countries, like the Ukraine, can emerge and be competitive in export markets.

"This is really to me a big surprise where the competing product is going to come from. It's a real wake-up call to the industry and a wake-up call for the buyers around the world. A lot of these countries are advancing very rapidly," he said.