According to an April USDA/FAS report, for the first time in more than a decade, global imports of pork, beef, and broiler meats are all forecast to decline in a single year. Deterioration in the global economic situation, restrictive trade policies, the stronger US dollar and changing market conditions are among the reasons for falling demand in some major importing countries.

Global imports of broiler meat are down mainly because of Russia, which accounts for 15% of world imports in 2008. Russia’s restrictive import quotas and cost prohibitive out-of-quota tariffs constrain trade, while production is expanding with newer facilities as the government is committed to becoming a net exporter in the near future.

Oversupply, falling prices and shrinking imports due to the global economic slowdown are expected to cause production to stagnate in 2009. Over the previous three years production had expanded by 13%. Production in the US, Brazil and China accounts for 55% of world output.

Faced with large supplies and falling prices, the Brazilian broiler industry is expected to drastically lower its rate of growth, although production still is forecast to expand by three% over last year.

US production is expected to decline due to rapid increases in feed and energy costs. Over the longer term, continued adverse economic conditions coupled with lower prices and reduced domestic consumption are expected to dampen expansion.

China’s production growth is expected to slow down as the industry is experiencing losses due to avian influenza outbreaks, causing slaughterhouses to close.

Russian and Ukrainian production continues to expand, aided by government subsidized credits and import-restricting policies.

Imports are now forecast to decline slightly in 2009, after imports had surged nearly 30% over the three previous years. Imports are expected to be constrained by restrictive import policies, high tariffs and weaker currencies in Russia and Ukraine and oversupply in the case of Japan. Alternatively, Chinese, Mexican, and EU imports are revised upwards as more broiler meat is expected to be consumed in these markets.

Lower exports from Brazil, the US and the EU, which together account for 90% of global trade, reflects restrictive Russian import policies and intensified competition. Despite falling prices, Brazilian exports are estimated to have much slower growth as exports are forecast only slightly higher than in 2008, largely due to reduced imports by Japan. EU exports face more competition from lower-cost countries like Brazil and the US. Declining US exports reflect tighter domestic supplies and overstocked markets, among other factors.