Major Chinese companies had a presence at the International Poultry Expo, but Georgians were the dominant attendees. See the full photo album.

The Georgia World Congress Center hosts multiple industry events bringing hundreds of thousands of conventioneers to Atlanta each year. 

But even though they spend millions of dollars on hotels and restaurants, only a small proportion of the deals they sign behind closed doors radiate out to the Georgia economy. 

It’s safe to say that things are different at the International Poultry Expo, which has been held annually in Atlanta for the past 65 years. 

Georgia is the top poultry state in the U.S., which leads the world in producing “broilers,” whole chickens raised for meat. Appropriately, then, Georgians continued to dominate the show in 2012, with 4,562 attendees hailing from the state, compared with 994 from Illinois, the next highest sender. 

Georgia’s influence wasn’t lost on attendees, despite the fact that many of the companies peddling enzymes for feed additives or showing off pellet mills, extruders and pumps hailed from the Midwest, the nation’s breadbasket.

At the booth for Calpis, a Japanese manufacturer of probiotic feed additives that is planning a plant in Peachtree City, one of the reps educated Global Atlanta about Georgia’s “five p’s” of agriculture – peaches, peanuts, pine trees, pecans, and of course, poultry. 

A little down the line was Nova-Tech Engineering LLC, a Minnesota-based company displaying a mechanical system for treating the beaks of day-old chicks. 

In what must be a harrowing experience for the newborn birds, they are placed in “cradles” that are rapidly conveyed through a rectangular steel box filled with moving parts, where their beaks are zapped with infrared lasers. The resulting rounded shape keep these “natural carnivores” from harming each other as they grow up in close quarters. 

Nova-Tech leases the machines to poultry producers, using an Internet-connected system to keep a real-time tab on the number of birds processed, said Pablo Rubio, a sales manager for the Americas, who added that Georgia is well-known as a chicken capital. 

“It is one of our potential biggest markets in the United States and around the world,” Mr. Rubio said. One of Nova-Tech’s customers is Heritage Breeders of Trion, Ga.

Georgia-based companies also roamed the show. Representatives of metro Atlanta’s Nsonwa Profiles Co. LLC, a startup looking to employ new technology to bolster the poultry industry in the West African nation of Ghana, hoped to garner ideas and support for a chicken collaborative they are looking to launch this year in the country’s Sekondi region. 

They have 36 acres of land for a farm but are looking to buy a 9,000-egg incubator where they can hatch chicks and dole them out to farmers who will return them ready for processing after six weeks. The poultry show was a central place to eye the industry’s newest innovations, said E.A. Dillard, a director of the company. 

“We know that there are people here who have what we need,” Dr. Dillard told Global Atlanta in an interview. 

Beyond sideline deals, the conference’s mainline economic impact is also expected to have grown this year, said Gwen Venable, a spokeswoman for the Tucker, Ga.-based U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, which hosts the event. 

It attracted more than 25,000 guests this year, up from 20,651 last year, selling out many nearby hotels. 

“We had to go over almost to the airport to get additional rooms. That’s not a bad problem to have,” Ms. Venable said.  

A breakdown of attendees and exhibitors by country and state is expected in early March. In 2012, CanadaMexicoBrazilColombia and Venezuela represented the top five sending nations, in that order. 

Visit or for more information. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...