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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-September 2021.                   


Total exports of bone-in broiler parts and feet in January-September 2021 attained 2,769,515 metric tons, 5.7 percent more than during the first nine months of 2020 (2,619,332 metric tons). Total value of exports increased by 25.8 percent to $3,300 million ($2,624 million 2020).


Unit price is constrained by the fact that leg quarters comprise over 96 percent of broiler meat exports (excluding feet). In 2021 to date unit value of leg quarters has risen consistent with international demand. Despite the recent welcome increase in unit price, 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 thereafter in 2020 due to COVID, increased demand for protein with international repercussions on trade in chicken and pork. This trend is abating 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 nine months of 2021 the National Chicken Council (NCC), citing USDA-FAS data, documented exports of 2,798,943 metric tons of chicken parts and other forms (whole and prepared) valued at $3,373 million with a weighted average unit value of $1,205 per metric ton, 19.0 percent higher in unit value than for the corresponding nine months of 2020 ($1,013 per metric ton).

The NCC breakdown of chicken exports during January-September 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 7%; Unit value $1,146 per metric ton ($964)
  • Prepared chicken 3%; Unit value $2,886 per metric ton ($3,527)
  • Whole chicken 0%; Unit value $1,352 per metric ton ($1,009) 


Direct comparisons between January-September 2020 and 2021 are not entirely valid. 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-September 2020 with 2021:-



Jan.-Sept. 2020

Jan.-Sept. 2021


Broiler Meat & Feet

Volume (metric tons)



+150,183 (+5.7%)

Value ($ millions)



+676 (+25.8%)

Unit value ($/m. ton)



+190 (+19.0%)

Turkey Meat

Volume (metric tons)



+1,530 (+0.8%)

Value ($ millions)



+60 (+14.4%)

Unit value ($/m. ton)



+303 (+13.4%)

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-September 2021 as compared with the first nine months of 2020 increased by 5.7 percent in volume and 25.8 percent in value. Unit value was 19.9 percent higher at $1,183 per metric ton.


Total broiler parts, predominantly leg quarters but including feet, exported during September 2021 as compared with the corresponding month in 2020 declined by 0.9 percent in volume but increased by 27.5 percent in value. Unit value was 30.6 percent higher to $1,275 per metric ton.


The top five importers of broiler meat represented 51.5 percent of shipments during the first nine months of 2021. The top ten importers comprised 67.9 percent of the total volume reflecting concentration among the significant importing nations.


For January-September 2021 Mexico was the largest importer of broiler meat from the U.S. by both volume and value with 620,838 metric tons representing 22.4 percent of volume and 19.4 percent of total value at a unit price of $1,033 per metric ton. Mexico increased volume in September 2021 by 3.6 percent over September 2020 with a disproportionate 54.9 percent increase in value to $70.3 million with a unit value of $1,122 per metric ton.


China was ranked 2nd by volume and value among importers of broiler parts and feet combined during January-September 2021. China represented 12.0 percent of export volume and 18.6 percent of value at an average unit price of $1,851 per ton indicating a high proportion of feet shipped. In September, China reduced volume (down 24.2 percent to 37,665 metric tons) compared to September 2020 but value was up a disproportional 3.0 percent to $71.5 million with a unit value of $1,898 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 2020 imply that about half the consigned feet to Hong Kong prior to March of this year were trans-shipped to Mainland China. Based on frozen stock levels it is apparent that export of chicken meat to China continues but at a moderate rate with the U.S. frozen inventory of leg quarters up 0.9 percent between September 30th 2020 and the end of September 2021 to 82.5 million lbs. The U.S. inventory of leg quarters increased by 9.5 percent from August 31st 2021 to September 30th 2021. The U.S. inventory of frozen paws and feet increased over the period September 30th 2020 to September 30th 2021 by 0.8 percent to 29.4 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-September 2021 with 8.2 percent of volume and 6.3 percent of value. Shipments were 77.2 percent higher compared to January-September 2020 at 227,098 metric tons. In September imports of 17,836 metric tons were up 18.5 percent over September 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 129,326 metric tons valued at $120.4 million for January-September 2021. The unit value of $931 per ton reflects predominantly leg quarters combined with MDM. Inflation in the cost of protein in the Philippines 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 September 2021 exports to the Philippines fell sharply to 8,581 metric tons and were down 7.9 percent as compared to September 2020. Shipments in September 2021 were down 9.7 percent from August 2021 with Philippines as the 9th-ranked importer. Given the difficulty of controlling ASF in the absence of an effective vaccine, Philippine exports will continue through the intermediate term but at a progressively lower level as the outbreak is suppressed by quarantine and other restrictions.


Taiwan was the 5th ranked importer during January-September 2021 with 4.3 percent of U.S. export volume and 3.7 percent of value attributed to the product mix with a unit price of $1,019 per metric ton, suggesting leg quarters as the principal product. During January-September 2021 imports from the U.S. declined 36.9 percent in volume and 30.6 percent in value compared to the first nine months of 2020. Exports to 5th ranked Taiwan in September 2021 fell 0.4 percent to 11,813 metric tons compared to September 2020 with 11,866 metric tons.


Canada was the 6th ranked importer receiving 110,743 metric tons valued at $250.8 million with a unit value of $2,265 per metric ton indicating added-value product. In September 2021 exports to Canada attained 11,724 metric tons, up by 2.9 percent from September 2020.


Guatemala was 7th in rank during January-September with 105,749 metric tons representing 3.8 percent of export volume. Value was $125.5 million with a unit value of $1,187 per metric ton. In September 2021 volume and value represent both 3.7 percent of exports


There is constant fluctuation among the second-tier nations importing broiler meat with average monthly volumes ranging from 2,000 to 9,000 metric tons. Constantly expanding volume is due to the promotional activities of USAPEEC and their regional representatives interacting with traders.


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


Mexico, (+24%); Cuba, (+77%); Philippines, (+136%);

Guatemala, (+25%); Angola (+36%); Colombia, (+5%);

Ghana, (+42%) and Kazakhstan, (+180%).

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

Taiwan, (-33%); Viet Nam, (-36%); South Africa, (-15%); UAE, (-17%),

Georgia, (55%); Congo-Brazzaville, (-24%), Chile, (-24%) and Haiti (-53%).

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

During September 2021 increases over the corresponding month of 2020 were recorded for Kazakhstan, (+429%) to 8,109 metric tons; UAE, (+110%) to 3,548 metric tons and Qatar, (+433%) to 2,467 metric tons.



The volume of turkey meat exported during January-September 2021 increased by 0.8 percent but value rose by 14.4 percent compared to January-September 2020 with an increase in average unit value of 13.4 percent from $2,256 per metric ton to $2,259 per metric ton. In September 2021 volume declined by 4.3 percent to 20,742 metric tons compared to September 2020 but value increased by 30.3 percent reflecting a 36.1 percent increase in unit value to $2,926 per metric ton.


Mexico, the leading importer received 67.8 percent of turkey meat shipped during the first nine months of 2021, amounting to 126,311 metric tons, 6.9 percent more than during 2020. Exports of turkey products to Mexico amounted to $319.4 million at a unit price of $2,529 per metric ton and represented 67.0 percent of the total value of $476.8 million shipped. Mexico reduced imports in September 2021 compared to September 2020 at 12,826 metric tons but the volume was 6.2 percent lower than in August 2021.


Benin was ranked a distant 2nd for the first nine months of 2021 with 5,451 metric tons at a unit value of $1,431 per metric ton, denoting low-value product. Of the nine-month period, volumes in 2021 ranged from 463 metric tons in June to 794 metric tons in August but with less than 400 tons in September. Continued exports to Benin will be a function of the porosity of the border with Nigeria, the ultimate destination of low-value turkey products, and the cost of “dash” for customs officials.


South Africa was 3rd ranked as an importer of turkey products for the first nine months of 2021 with a volume of 5,503 metric tons representing 2.7 percent of U.S. export volume and 1.9 percent of value at $8.8 million. Volume in September attained 427 metric tons possibly constrained by the economic situation and port congestion.


Canada was the 4th ranked importer for January-September 2021 with 4,583 metric tons valued at $17.9 million with a unit price at $3,906 per metric ton. Volume of 568 metric tons was up 3.6 percent and value was up 8.5 percent for the first nine months of 2021 compared to January-September 2020. Canada did not rank among the top-6 importers of turkey products in September.


China imported 3,717 metric tons over the first nine months of 2021 down 71.0 percent in volume and 57.2 percent in value at $8.9 million compared to the corresponding period in 2020.


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-September 2021 due to Japan sourcing from the E.U.


PROSPECTS FOR 2021 and 2022

The October 18th 2021 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook Report, projected that broiler exports would attain 3.405 million metric tons (7,491 million lbs.) in 2021. This value represents 16.8 percent of the projected production of 20.329 million metric tons (44,7374 million lb.) of broiler RTC by the U.S. industry.


Exports of turkey products in 2021are projected at 254,000 metric tons, (558,800 million lbs.) or 10.0 percent of annual production of 2.550 million metric tons (5,610 million lbs.)


For 2022 the USDA projects export volumes for chicken products to decrease by 1.1 percent to 3.368 million metric tons (7,410 million lbs.) Turkey exports will decrease by 0.4 percent to 255,000 metric tons (561,800 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 Ambassador 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, all 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 problem of trade embargos resurfaced this month following confirmation of a limited outbreak of low-pathogenicity H7 strain avian influenza in a multi-species farm in Stanislaus County, California. Importing nations have placed limited area and county-wide bans as a result. 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