Cheap U.S Chicken Leaves India Poultry Farmers in a Flap


    


Indians could be enjoying an abundance of cheap American chicken legs and wings within a year.
After losing an appeal against the U.S at a World Trade Organization appellate body last month, Indian authorities are gearing up to start negotiations with their U.S. counterparts to resume the import of poultry products, banned for several years over avian influenza, or bird flu, fears.
The U.S. is one of the world’s largest exporters of chicken meat, and lifting the ban will throw open a huge business opportunity for exporters to India.
India’s local industry bodies estimate that the value of U.S exports of chicken meat, mainly leg pieces, could exceed $300 million a year once India removes its restrictions. The number would grow substantially in future as India’s demand for high-quality protein rises.
Indian poultry farmers and breeders are objecting to the move as they fear their businesses could be hit. In India, chicken legs cost around 250 rupees ($3.9) a kilogram. The same imported American product would cost less than half this price as the U.S. has huge frozen stocks for export, domestic chicken breeders said.
American chicken legs could grab around 15% of India’s poultry market, which is worth about 800 billion rupees per year, said Jagbir Singh Dhull, chairman of the Poultry Federation of India’s Working Group. Branded food chains like McDonald’s and KFC will likely be the main buyers of the imported chicken, he added.


Consumption of the meat in India is still relatively low however. India’s per capita chicken consumption is estimated to be around 4 kilograms per person every year compared with the world’s average of 15-18 kilograms, according to Mr. Dhull.
“American chicken legs would be sold at dirt cheap prices here,” Mr. Dhull said.
India banned imports of various agricultural products from the U.S. in 2007 to prevent outbreaks of bird flu in the country. The U.S. took India to the WTO dispute settlement body in March 2012. Both the panel appointed by that body and an appellate arm of the WTO, recently ruled in favor of the U.S., stating that India’s measures restricted international trade.
The South Asian nation will inform the dispute-settlement body of the WTO next week of its intention to resume chicken and egg imports from the U.S, a senior official at India’s trade ministry said.
“The maximum timeline which India could get from the U.S to resume imports is 15 months from July. We hope it will start earlier,” said the official, who didn’t want to be identified.

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