The USDA Poultry & Egg Export Council knows firsthand how even developing countries can quickly become a major market for agricultural products.
“We’re relatively new to exporting,” said Greg Tyler, the council’s vice president of marketing, speaking at the American Soybean Association’s Legislative Forum in Washington in July. But since 1990, when the group—and its industry partners--began focusing on opening new markets, U.S. poultry exports have jumped, especially in Africa, where many countries have economic and logistical barriers to entry.
In a panel discussion between Tyler, Jocelyn Brown of the USDA, and Sylvain Roy, president and CEO of Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), they discussed the challenges and opportunities of overseas international development.
Here are a few highlights from their conversation.
- USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service seeks to grow U.S. food and agricultural exports to $10 billion by the end of 2018, for economic and practical reasons. Helping countries build a stable agricultural foundation and establish trading relationships is “important for food security and national security,” said Jocelyn Brown, a deputy administrator in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, which provides direct food aid as well as economic development and technical assistance. “We believe that hungry people are agitated people.”
- Even “fragile markets” like Sub-Saharan Africa offer tremendous opportunity for U.S. companies. In the past 15 years, poultry exports to Sub-Saharan Africa have grown more than tenfold, going from $40 million in 2000 to $500 million today, said Tyler.
- Angola has become the third-largest export market in the world for U.S. poultry. “People say, ‘Why Angola?’” Tyler said. “Well, Angola is a huge oil producer and they also have a huge catering industry which supplies the oil industry, so chicken-leg quarters are a natural fit.”
- Avian influenza remains a concern both for American exports (many countries have banned poultry from certain states or counties) and for developing countries struggling to manage it. “There is so little understanding in many of these countries about plant or animal diseases,” said Brown. “These countries have one or two advisors working on animal or plant diseases. … This is an incredibly hot topic in my office.”
- More than one-fifth of U.S. broiler production (20.7%) was exported in 2014, as was 13.6% of U.S. turkey production, according to Tyler.
- Poultry consume more soybeans than many people realize. More than half (51%) of the soybean yield produced annually goes to poultry, which translates into 161 million bushels of beans being exported via poultry annually, according to Tyler.