World trade in fresh, chilled and frozen poultry meat is forecast to fall by 3% in 2009 to 10.2 million tons, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s latest Food Outlook report. However, according to US Department of Agriculture data, broiler meat exports worldwide could slump by more than half a million tons (6%) this year, primarily as a result of smaller purchases by both Russia and Japan. USDA estimates put broiler exports contracting from the 2008 record of almost 8.4 million tons to around 7.9 million tons.

Mainly as a result of reduced shipments to Russia, US broiler exports are expected to fall by more than 400,000 tons (13%) to 2.7 million tonnes, though some recovery is anticipated in the foreseeable future boosting the US total to around 3.4 million tons by the end of the next decade.

Brazilian exports expand

In contrast, it is anticipated that in 2009, Brazil will ship slightly more than last year and at an estimated 3.3 million tons, will maintain her position as the world’s leading broiler meat exporter. Looking further ahead, America’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute sees Brazilian exports continue to expand, exceeding 4.2 million tons by 2018.

Brazil and the USA combined account for some three-quarters of global chicken exports.

Having climbed to around 500,000 tons in 2003, outbreaks of avian influenza brought about a dramatic drop in Thailand’s broiler production which, coupled with import bans on Thai chicken meat exports, saw shipments drop to around 200,000 tons in 2004. The industry started to put increasing emphasis on producing higher value cooked products which, along with the lifting of import barriers, resulted in exports climbing back to an estimated 383,000 tons last year, and the outlook is for this business to increase towards 500,000 tons a year again, by 2018.

EU exports to rise

Exports from the European Union are not forecast to grow and indeed it is anticipated that the EU will continue to be a net importer of broiler meat, though the quantities will likely be less than 100,000 tons a year.

Purchases by Russia, the world’s leading chicken meat importer, are expected to fall below a million tons this year compared with a peak of almost 1.25 million tons four years ago. While some forecasts suggest that Russian imports will recover to average more than a million tons a year throughout the next decade, Russian authorities are confident that domestic output will continue to expand apace leading to a further marked contraction in imports.

An oversupply situation in Japan is expected to cut receipts to around 670,000 tons this year compared with almost 750,000 tons in 2005. However, the medium - to long-term forecasts point to a recovery in imports back towards the 750,000 tons a year mark.

Other leading buyers, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and China are all forecast to increase their purchases in the next decade with each receiving more than 600,000 tons a year by 2018.

But, the fastest expanding market for broiler meat in recent years has been Venezuela with imports trebling from just over 100,000 tons to an estimated 360,000 tons this year.

Global turkey meat exports are also expected to decline this year, by 4%. However, against this overall trend, Brazil is anticipating expanding shipments significantly to around 240,000 tons, cementing its position as the second largest turkey meat exporter.

Mexico tops buyer list

On the import side of the trade balance sheet, Mexico continues to be the leading buyer with this year’s forecast for imports exceeding 210,000 tons – or nearly a third of all exports!

There has been a sharp rise in the movement of canned chicken meat, the annual total trebling between 1996 and 2006 from 407,000 tons to 1.35 million tons. In Asia the leading exporters are Thailand and China, the bulk of their trade being conducted with Japan the major buyer in the region. In Europe, key importers are the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, while the latter also exports significant quantities. In the Americas, Brazil and the USA are the top exporters of canned chicken.