Growth in global poultry production is forecast to be “limited” this year, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Outlook published this month, with output rising by only 1.4 percent to 111.8 million tones, half the 3 percent trend observed over the last decade.

While falling feed prices have supported growth in many countries, challenges in China continue to weigh on the world total. In China, concerns over avian influenza have caused demand for poultry to stall, and overall production this year is forecast to be stagnant at 18.5 million metric tons.

Excluding China, the tendency in all other largest producing countries is expected to be positive. The report, written before the full the extent of the U.S. avian influenza outbreak had become apparent, forecast that the U.S. poultry industry could grow by 0.8 percent this year to 20.7 million metric tons. Gains were also forecast for the EU, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Mexico, India, Iran and Turkey.

Slow growth in poultry meat trade

Although the volume of trade in poultry has increased by 55 percent over the past decade, growth has slowed since 2013, and this trend is expected to continue this year. The FAO believes that the global trade in poultry meat will rise by only 2.6 percent this year to 13.1 million metric tons.

This is due, in part, higher production in importing countries, reducing their need to import. Additionally, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in some areas of the U.S. from January onward has caused numerous countries to suspend imports from this country, pending its containment and eradication.


The two major poultry meat importers, China and Japan, are projected to maintain their purchases at similar levels to last year. Stable to positive growth in imports by other major markets including Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the EU and Vietnam is expected to contrast with a second year of falling purchases by the Russian Federation. In the latter, imports are provisionally estimated to decline by 12 percent, stemming from abundant domestic production and the August 2014 trade ban on imports from specific countries.

In Africa, imports as a whole are forecast to rise by 6.7 percent. Among the main importing countries Angola and Benin are anticipated to purchase more as income growth strengthens demand, while imports by South Africa are forecast to rise by 1 percent.

New export opportunities

The three leading exporters, Brazil, the U.S. and the EU, which together account for almost three quarters of global poultry exports, have seen little expansion in sales in recent years. This situation may change in 2015, when Brazilian sales may receive a boost from the US HPAI  outbreaks and related export restriction and from the opening up of opportunities in Russia.

Brazil, along with second tier exporters such as Thailand and Turkey, are projected to drive expansion of world poultry exports in 2015. Argentina, however, which has also seen substantial growth in recent years, suffered a decline in its principal market Venezuela in 2014, and a further overall decline in sales is anticipated this year.