After a long ban on poultry products, U.S. poultry companies are preparing to meet substantial demand in China. Expectations are for chicken products to begin entering the Chinese market in early 2020 for the first time in nearly five years. Several American companies are already making preparation to make significant headway into the reopened market.
“China is an important export market for America’s poultry farmers, and we estimate they will now be able to export more than $1 billion worth of poultry and poultry products each year to China,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer when China announced it would be lifting the ban on American poultry. “Reopening China to U.S. poultry will create new export opportunities for our poultry farmers and support thousands of workers employed by the U.S. poultry industry.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that a total of 172 U.S. poultry slaughter and poultry processing plants have been approved for shipping products to China. Five plants from California-based Foster Farms have been cleared to ship to China, as well as several other major U.S. poultry companies including Tyson Foods, Butterball, Pilgrim’s Pride and Sanderson Farms.
China initially banned American poultry from entering the country back in 2015 after an avian influenza outbreak in late 2014. The ban remained in place despite no further outbreaks in the U.S. being reported since August 2017. Prior to being excluded from the market, American poultry exports to China were valued at $500 million in 2013. Last year, global exports of poultry products were valued at $4.3 billion, making the U.S. the world’s second-largest poultry exporter. China represents tremendous market potential, as conditions are aligning to make American poultry an attractive option in China.
African swine fever is having a devastating effect on pork production in China, killing millions of pigs over the past year. As the world’s largest consumer of pork, China is looking to alternative meats to fill the void left by the absence of adequate pork supplies. U.S. poultry companies should be able to meet a significant portion of the demand in China to compensate for the pork shortage.