Restrictions on poultry exports to China and Russia made Mexico the largest consumer of U.S. poultry last year, according to the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, headquartered in Stone Mountain.
For about six months last year, Russia banned all poultry treated with chlorine, a chemical used frequently in the U.S. to sterilize meat. Exports to China also fell after the country argued that U.S. companies were dumping poultry in the country, or selling products at a lower cost in China than in the U.S.
According to a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the anti-dumping investigation has been concluded with China imposing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. chicken products. The department is currently reviewing this final decision.
Data released this April by the agriculture department showed both turkey and broiler exports to Mexico in February were up. Turkey exports climbed 44 percent by volume and 40 percent by value over the previous year.
Toby Moore, vice president of communications for the export council, told GlobalAtlanta that increased exports to Mexico and other smaller countries made up for the drop off in exports to China and Russia.
“We’ve been shut out of two of our largest markets over the last year, and exports are still able to increase,” he said.
The data supported Mr. Moore’s assessment showing that U.S. poultry exports for February were up by 15 percent by volume with 290,261 metric tons and nearly 18 percent by value with $338.7 million. One metric ton is about 2,204 pounds.
The increase in exports is largely a result of the low value of the dollar, said Mr. Moore.
“The dollar is weak and our main competitor, the Brazilian real, is fairly strong. So it makes U.S. products more competitive in the world market place,” he said.
He added that as the top U.S. producer of broilers, Georgia is responsible for a large part of these exports.
According to data from the export council, Georgia broiler exports make up about 13 percent of all U.S. broiler exports in January and February of this year.
In the first two months, U.S. broiler exports totaled 496,493 metric tons, up from 458,633 metric tons the year before. Based on Georgia’s share of production, the export council estimates that the state’s broiler exports also rose from 59,622 to 64,544 metric tons.
Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, Gary Black, attributed the state’s large share of exports to local producers and the Port of Savannah.
“Most of these exports come from Georgia; our producers have made us the leading poultry state in the country and the Port of Savannah serves as the nation’s leading port for exporting chicken,” Mr. Black told GlobalAtlanta in an email.
While Georgia is the country’s top broiler producer, most turkey production takes place outside of the state in Minnesota, North Carolina and Arkansas, said a spokesperson for Georgia’s Department of Agriculture.
Data from the U.S. agricultural department also showed that egg exports were down 17 percent by volume and 18 percent by value for the first two months of this year. Mr. Moore said these exports were down because because most countries are self-sustaining egg producers.
For more information on the export council, visit www.usapeec.org.