The commercialization of live chickens in the modern poultry industry continues to puzzle those in the most "advanced" poultry industries. Questions arise as to how it is possible to continue marketing this way, how health and food safety are managed, whether it is profitable for the poultry producer, or, at best, is he/she is not making money without processing or producing value-added products.
I was just in Peru to prepare material for OVUM 2019, the new name of the Latin American Poultry Congress, which will be held in Lima October 9-11. I had the opportunity to interview the main Peruvian poultry companies, and with all chicken producers, live chicken commercialization stands out of around 70 percent of the production.
Driven by the same market, it is still profitable to sell live chickens for Peruvian producers? Processing, whether it is only dressing or products with added value, is limited for several reasons, such as the lack of cold chain in the country. But perhaps the most important reason is it is what consumers are asking for. The Peruvians like fresh chicken.
Perhaps their palate is too fine to detect that the chicken they're eating was just slaughtered only a few hours before and there was no refrigeration or freezing, or any other method to preserve it.
It is important to highlight that the flagship product of Peru is grilled chicken (pollo a la brasa), known in other countries as rotisserie chicken. Just stroll through Lima to see the vast amount of places where you can eat this type of chicken and the popularity that it enjoys. I had to try it and I admit the taste of the chicken was spectacular, a fresh taste.
There are other countries, such as Mexico, where 37 percent of the chicken is still sold live and 35 percent of it is rotisserie chicken. The latter does involve some processing, and transportation is done with the products immersed in layers of ice.
I've always said Latin Americans like fresh chicken. Maybe we need to refocus marketing efforts on this sector. Or should we insist on added value?
What do you think?