China's broiler meat imports will tumble to an 11-year low in 2015, undermined by a ban on buy-ins of American supplies, and accelerating the country's emergence as a major net exporter of a food category.
China's chicken meat imports, which the USDA has officially forecast falling by 2.1 percent in 2015, will in fact slump by 19.2 percent, the USDA bureau in Beijing said.
A decline at this level would take China to 210,000 metric tons, the lowest since 2004, and prove dwarfed by China's exports, expected to rise to a 14-year high of 460,000 metric tons.
The growth of China as a net poultry exporter reflects effects of avian influenza outbreaks. China in January banned imports from the U.S., after the detection of high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in some western states. Meanwhile, outbreaks of avian influenza within China itself are curtailing domestic consumption of poultry meat, underpinning supplies for the export market.
"Despite annual GDP growth of 6-7 percent in China, broiler meat consumption has been sluggish over that last several years, hampered by continuing outbreaks of avian influenza and the resulting publicity that surrounds each new reported outbreak," the USDA bureau said.
"This is especially true in the heavy poultry consumption areas of southern China," which has witnessed "more than 40 human infections" of the H7N9 bird flu variety since the beginning of the year, "adding to consumer's negative perceptions about poultry consumption."
The bureau forecast Chinese broiler meat consumption in 2015, per capita, at "slightly above 9 kilograms, down from 10 kilograms in 2014."