February 23, 2021

In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, poultry and egg exports from the United States soared in 2020, setting records in several key markets.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service said that broiler and egg exports increased in both volume and value last year, and records were set in China, Mexico, and Taiwan. 

The value of broiler exports to China, the volume of broiler exports to Mexico, and the value and volume of broiler exports to Taiwan all hit historic highs, according to trade data from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Broiler exports to China last year reached €602.4 million, surpassing the previous record set in 2008, and represented 20.6% of US total export value worldwide.

Jim Sumner, President of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said: “Last year was one of the most challenging our industry has faced.

“While retail sales were good, foodservice sales were down, so it was especially important that exports be strong and provide a solid base for our industry, which they did.”

Mr Sumner said that in the last two months of 2020, the US overtook all other countries to become the number one supplier of chicken to China in the world.

China also ranked second in the quantity of US broiler exports in 2020, trailing only Mexico. 

In Mexico, US broiler exports rose 2.4% in 2020 to 635,033 tonnes, an all-time high. That represented 19.6% of US total exports worldwide.

Taiwan’s record-setting export volume in 2020 reached 218,411 tonnes, up 16.7% from 2019, while its historic high export value totalled €180.2m, up 19.8%.

Overall, broiler exports in 2020 were 3,245,027 tonnes, up 5.2% from 2019, while export value was €2.9 billion, an increase of 3.5%, the highest in both volume and value since 2015.

Total egg exports increased 9.3% to 3.5 billion eggs. The value of those exports grew 2.4% to €184.2m.

Egg exports to Mexico in 2020 were the second-highest ever in volume and the third-highest ever in value. Both the volume and value of egg exports to Mexico were up 90% last year from 2019.

Turkey production in the US decreased in 2020, but the percentage of the turkey that was produced and then exported held relatively steady. Production was 2,347,574 tonnes, down 1.3% from 2019, and exports last year were 235,132 tonnes, down 10.6% from 2019. 

The percentage of turkey production exported in 2020 was 10%, compared to 11.1% in 2019. 

Looking ahead, Mr Sumner said the biggest factor affecting the industry, both domestically and globally, will be the exceptionally tight feed supply situation after record corn and soy exports. 

He added: “With chicken’s efficient feed conversion ratio, and with the US a primary corn and soy producer, the US will again be in a most favourable position as most all countries face feed shortages and record input costs.”

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