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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

U.S. Meat Exports


U.S. Broiler and Turkey Exports, January-July 2021


Total exports of bone-in broiler parts and feet in January-July 2021 attained 2,150,960 metric tons, 6.4 percent more than for the first seven months of 2020 (2,021,169 metric tons). Total value of exports increased by 23.4 percent to $2,523 million ($2.044 million 2020).


Unit price is constrained by the fact that leg quarters comprise over 96 percent of exports except feet. Leg quarters represent a relatively low-value commodity lacking in pricing power. Exporters of commodities are subjected to competition from domestic production in importing nations. Generic products such as leg quarters are vulnerable to trade disputes and embargos based on real or contrived disease restrictions.


The still uncontrolled outbreak of African swine fever in China and Southeast Asia from early 2019 onwards coupled with disruptions in chicken production during January and February 2020 associated with COVID-19, increased demand for protein with international repercussions on trade in chicken and pork. This trend is reversing as hog production is restored in China and overproduction is evident in the white-feathered broiler sector with implications for exports during the remainder of 2021 and for 2022.


During the first seven months of 2021 the National Chicken Council (NCC), citing USDA-FAS data, documented exports of 2,084,611 metric tons of chicken parts and other forms (whole and prepared) valued at $2,352 million with a weighted average unit value of $1,186 per metric ton, 15.9 percent higher in unit value than for the corresponding seven months of 2020 ($1,023 per metric ton).


The NCC breakdown of chicken exports during January-July of 2021 by proportion and unit price for each broiler category compared with the corresponding period of 2020 (with the unit price in parentheses) comprised:-

  • Chicken parts 95.9%; Unit value $1,129 per metric ton ($972)
  • Prepared chicken 3.1%; Unit value $2,936 per metric ton ($3,570)
  • Whole chicken 1.0%; Unit value $1,186 per metric ton ($1,015)



Direct comparisons between January-July 2020 and 2021 are not entirely comparable. The USDA combined export quantities of feet with chicken meat from April 2020 onwards.


The following table prepared from USDA data circulated by the USAPEEC, compares values for poultry meat exports for January-July 2020 with 2021:-



Jan.-July 2020

Jan.-July 2021


Broiler Meat & Feet


Volume (metric tons)



+128,991 (+6.4%)

Value ($ millions)



+479 (+23.4%)

Unit value ($/m. ton)



+162 (+16.0%)

Turkey Meat


Volume (metric tons)



+3,629 (+2.6%)

Value ($ millions)



+32 (+9.9%)

Unit value ($/m. ton)



+163 (+7.1%)

Chicken Paws



Volume (metric tons)


Not disclosed


Value ($ millions)


Not disclosed


Unit value ($/m. ton)


Not disclosed


*See note concerning inclusion of feet in totals from April onwards in text above






Total broiler parts, predominantly leg quarters but including feet, exported during January-July 2021 as compared with the first seven months of 2020 increased by 6.4 percent in volume and 23.4 percent in value. Unit value was 16.0 percent higher at $1,173 per metric ton.


The top five importers of broiler meat represented 52.9 percent of shipments during the first seven months of 2021. The top ten importers comprised 69.1 percent of the total volume reflecting concentration among the significant importing nations.


For January-July 2021 Mexico was the largest importer of broiler meat from the U.S. by both volume and value with 495,204 metric tons representing 23.0 percent of volume and 19.8 percent of total value at a unit price of $1,011 per metric ton. Mexico increased volume in July 2021 by 15.6 percent over July 2020 with a corresponding 90.5 percent increase in value to $72.6 million.


China was ranked 2nd by volume and value among importers of broiler parts and feet combined during January-July 2021. China represented 11.7 percent of export volume and 18.2 percent of value at an average unit price of $1,824 per ton indicating a high proportion of feet shipped. In July, China increased volume (up 1.3 percent to 35,147 metric tons) compared to July 2020 and value was up a disproportional 20.1 percent to $69.3 million with a unit value of $1,972 suggesting a change in product mix or an escalation in unit price of feet. Future sales will be constrained by recovery of hog production and domestic white-feathered chicken production that is currently in oversupply.


The relative volume of shipments of feet to Hong Kong and China during March and April 2000 imply that about half the consigned feet to Hong Kong prior to March 2020 were trans-shipped to Mainland China. Based on frozen stock levels it is apparent that export of chicken meat to China continues at a moderate rate with the U.S. frozen inventory of leg quarters down 4.5 percent between July 31st 2020 and July 31st 2021 to 76.2 million lbs. The U.S. inventory of leg quarters declined by 4.5 percent between July 31st 2020 and the corresponding date in 2021. The U.S. inventory of frozen paws and feet increased over the same period by 38.6 percent to 32.7 million lbs.


Data on April 2021 exports of chicken to China amounting to 35,147 metric tons comprised 62.5 percent paws; 30.0 percent bone-in legs; 6.5 percent edible by-products (necks, gizzards, livers and hearts) and 1.0 percent wings with an average unit price of $2,103 per metric ton. Data released by the General Administration of Customs of the Government of China do not correlate with USDA figures for individual products exported.


Cuba remained 3rd in rank for January-July 2021 with 8.5 percent of volume and 6.7 percent of value. Shipments were 85.8 percent higher than for January-July 2020 with 19,615 metric tons in July up 27.4 percent over July 2020. It is hoped that this trade worth $191 million in 2019 and $144 million in 2020 will not be compromised by injudicious diplomatic activity or politically inspired restraints such as enforcement of the Helms-Burton Act or extreme restrictions on travel or remittances to families. This market is courted by both Brazil and Argentina. Cuba has lost financial support from Venezuela in addition to collapse of tourism due to COVID-19, reducing availability of foreign currency.


Philippines continued imports retaining 4th in rank with 111,238 metric tons valued at $101.8 million in January-July 2021. The unit value of $915 per ton reflects predominantly leg quarters and possibly MDM. Inflation in the cost of protein was caused by mismanagement of African Swine Fever (ASF) by the Government. A protectionist import duty on pork was only reduced in early April from 30 percent to 5 percent. In July 2021 exports to the Philippines increased 143.8 percent to 13,441 metric tons compared to July 2020 and shipments were up 28.6 percent in July to 13,434 metric tons from 10,445 metric tons in June 2021. Given the difficulty of controlling ASF in the absence of an effective vaccine, Philippine exports will continue through the intermediate term.


Taiwan was the 5th ranked importer during January-July 2021 with 4.5 percent of U.S. export volume and 3.9 percent of value attributed to the product mix with a unit price of $1,020 per metric ton, suggesting leg quarters as the principal product. During January-July 2021 imports from the U.S. declined 40.0 percent in volume and 34.0 percent in value compared to the first seven months of 2020. Exports to 9th ranked Taiwan in July 2021 fell 61.8 percent to 8,800 metric tons compared to July 2020.


Canada was the 6th ranked importer receiving 87,626 metric tons valued at $196.5 million with a unit value of $2,242 per metric ton indicating added-value product.


Guatemala was 7th in rank during January-July with 83,340 metric tons representing 3.9 percent of export volume. Value was $97.4 million with a unit value of $1,169 per metric ton. In July 2021 volume and value were respectively 3.9 and 4.5 percent of exports.


There is constant fluctuation among the ten, second-tier nations importing broiler meat with average monthly volumes ranging from 3,000 to 9,000 metric tons. Expanding volume is due to the promotional activities of USAPEEC and their regional representatives interacting with traders.


During January-July 2021 nations gaining in volume compared to the corresponding months in 2020 (with the percentage change indicated) in descending order of volume were:-


Mexico, (+28%); China, (+5%); Cuba, (+86%); Philippines, (+193%); Canada,
(+6%); Guatemala, (+28%); Angola (+51%); Colombia, (+13%) and Haiti, (+72%)


January-July 2021 gains were offset by losses in exports to:-

Taiwan, (-40%); Viet Nam, (-41%); South Africa, (-16%); UAE, (-32%), Georgia, (-61%).


Kazakhstan imported 36,755 metric tons during the first seven months of 2021, up 156.6 percent from January-July 2020.


Hong Kong, was not among the top-20 importers in June 2021.




The volume of turkey meat exported during January-July 2021 increased by 2.6 percent but value rose by 9.9 percent compared to January-July 2020 with an increase in average unit value of 7.1 percent from $2,297 per metric ton to $2,460 per metric ton. In July 2021 volume declined by 1.5 percent to 21,096 metric tons compared to July 2020 but value increased by 40.6 percent reflecting a 42.9 percent increase in unit value to $2,934 per metric ton.


Mexico, the leading importer received 69.0 percent of turkey meat shipped during the first seven months of 2021, amounting to 100,132 metric tons, 8.9 percent more than during 2020. Exports of turkey products to Mexico amounted to $243 million at a unit price of $2,427 per metric ton represented 68.1 percent of the total value of $357.1 million shipped. Mexico reduced imports in July 2021 by 6.0 percent over July 2020 to 14,473 metric tons and the volume was 7.3 percent lower than in June 2021.


Benin was ranked a distant 2nd for the first seven months of 2021 with 4,259 metric tons at a unit value of $1,385 per metric ton denoting low-value product. Of the seven-month volume in 2021, 884 metric tons was imported in May, 463 metric tons in June and 628 metric tons in July. Continued exports to Benin will be a function of the porosity of the border with Nigeria, the ultimate destination, and the cost of “dash” for customs officials.


South Africa was 3rd ranked as an importer of turkey products for the first seven months of 2021 with a volume of 4,127 metric tons (2.8 percent of volume) and 2.0 percent of value at $7.0 million. Volume in July attained 415 metric tons possibly constrained by port closures due to civil unrest.


Canada was the 4th ranked importer for January-July 2021 with 3,592 metric tons valued at $13.8 million with a unit price at $3,841 per metric ton. Volume and value for the first seven months of 2021 were relatively unchanged compared to January-July 2020. Canada did not rank among the top-6 importers of turkey products in July.


Lower ranked importers comprising Peru, (2,954 metric tons); South Africa (4,127 metric tons); Guatemala (2,597 metric tons) and all other importers collectively received 27,443 metric tons or 18.9 percent of volume valued at $75.1 million, (21.0 percent of total) corresponding to an average unit value of $2,737 per metric ton.


During the first quarter of 2020 the U.S. concluded a limited trade agreement with Japan to place U.S. exporters on parity with E.U. competitors. This had the potential to restore the ranking of Japan as a significant importer. In 2019 turkey shipments to Japan were valued at $21.9 million but with a unit price of $4,153 per metric ton. Negligible exports were recorded during 2020 and January-July 2021 due to Japan sourcing from the E.U.


PROSPECTS FOR 2021 and 2022


The August 18th 2021 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook Report, projected that broiler exports should attain 3.412 million metric tons (7,506 million lbs.) in 2021. This value represents 16.8 percent of the 20.334 million metric tons (44,734 million lb.) of broiler RTC to be produced by the U.S. industry.


Exports of turkey products in 2021will attain 260,000 metric tons, (573,000 million lbs.) or 10.3 percent of annual production of 2.573 million metric tons (5,659 million lbs.)


For 2022 the USDA projects export volumes for chicken products to decrease by 0.8 percent to 3.386 million metric tons (7,449 million lbs.) Turkey exports will increase by 1.4 percent to 264,000 metric tons (580,800 million lbs).


The Administration successfully re-negotiated NAFTA into a new trilateral USMCA on September 30th 2018.This agreement has been ratified by legislatures of the three nations and took effect on July 1st 2020. It is important to recognize that exports of chicken and turkey meat products to our NAFTA partners amounted to $1.279 billion in 2018, $1.407 billion in 2019 and $1,264 in 2020, impacted by COVID. It will be important to respect the terms of the USMCA since punitive action against Mexico and Canada will result in reciprocal action by our trading partners to the detriment of the poultry and dairy industries. A meeting in Mexico City on the 1st anniversary of the USMCA allowed U.S. Trade Representative Amb. Katherine Tai to resolve issues with her counterparts representing Mexico and Canada.


The live-bird market system supplying metropolitan areas, our numerous backyard flocks, fighting cocks and commercial laying hens allowed outside access, potentially in contact with migratory birds, represent an ongoing danger to the entire U.S. commercial industry. This is evidenced by recovery of H5N3 LPAI in March from both a live market in San Francisco County and the supply farm. This event impacted the export of products from the Port of Oakland to various Asian nations. The live bird segments of poultry production place at risk the export eligibility of the broiler and turkey industries notwithstanding compartmentalization for breeders and regionalization for commercial production.

Copyright © 2021 Simon M. Shane