Chickens can’t fly, but U.S. poultry exports are soaring

Farm Forum

U.S. poultry exports broke volume and value records set in 2011, thanks to growing foreign markets and support from the soy checkoff.

Feeding chickens, turkeys and other animals soy in the United States and shipping out value-added products like meat and eggs represents a dual opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers. It increases the demand for soy while also supporting U.S. soy’s No. 1 customer, the animal ag sector.

“Exporting meat is a big issue for U.S. soybean farmers,” says John Butler, a farmer-leader from Dyersburg, Tenn. “If we can feed animals soybeans here and sell them abroad, we’re creating a value-added product. Adding that value here has a tremendous positive impact on not only the U.S. soy industry but the national economy as well.”

The soy checkoff supports U.S. poultry and livestock farmers by funding marketing efforts in other countries. Among those efforts, the checkoff partners with the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council to communicate the quality and safety of U.S. poultry to consumers in parts of Africa and Asia.

Last year, poultry exports hit 4.1 metric tons, valued at $5.5 billion. According to the most recent statistics, broilers, egg-laying hens and turkeys consume roughly 14.1 million metric tons of soy meal annually. That’s the meal from 657.9 million bushels of soybeans.

This increase in exports is partly because the international market for poultry products has diversified. For instance, increased sales in nations like Mexico, Russia and China helped offset double-digit declines in shipments of broilers to countries like Korea and Vietnam.