China may assess preliminary anti-dumping duties on poultry from the United States in an effort to check what it says are below-market prices on chicken feet and wings, RTTNews.com reported.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce posted a notice on its Web site of the change, but indicated no date when enforcement would begin. The Chinese Poultry Association has accused American poultry producers of dumping feet and wings on the Chinese market.

The National Chicken Council said it “is very disappointed” with the decision. “We disagree that any chicken products have been sold below the cost of production or comparable price in the United States,” said a press release from the council.

According to the council, U.S. companies sold mainland China 693,830 metric tons of poultry products worth $620M from January through November of 2009. The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council reports that U.S. chicken accounted for 72.7%of China’s total broiler meat imports in 2008.

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According to Jim Sumner, USAPEEC president, the Ministry of Commerce disregarded information from 36 U.S. companies that showed U.S. chicken is not being dumped on the Chinese market. “We’re hopeful that if Chinese officials study our submissions in greater detail, they will conclude that U.S. chicken products were, in fact, not dumped,” he said.

USAPEEC said that more than half of all U.S. poultry exports to China during the period under investigation were chicken feet, since Chinese farmers do not produce enough to meet demand. U.S. producers get a better price for feet on the Chinese market—$0.60 to $0.80 per pound—than the pennies per pound they can charge at home. “When a product is sold at export for prices that are many times higher than the price for the like good in the home market, that is not dumping. In fact, it is the very opposite of dumping,” the statement said.

Sumner added that he believes the anti-dumping move is a reaction to unrelated U.S.-China trade disputes, including those arising from U.S. safeguard duties on Chinese tires.