India’s branded poultry manufacturers are nervously awaiting an inflow of imported poultry products from US, warning they may lose significant market share to cheap imports.
In a WTO ruling, India was forced to lift its ban on US chicken, which had been imposed over bird flu concerns. The country removed import restrictions on 8 July, prompting some in the industry to raise concerns over the impact cheap US imported poultry will have on local manufacturers.
Sarvana Perumal, senior manager at Suguna Foods, in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, told just-food: “We would not be able to compete with the imported products on cost and could survive only if the import volumes are limited.”
Perumal explained that India’s branded frozen chicken industry especially has been struggling to lure customers from fresh products and barely commands 10% of the market, with trade mostly from hotels and restaurants. “Now there will be even less consumers for our products,” he predicted.
Perumal predicted that an imported US-made chicken leg could cost US$0.38, far cheaper than local market prices where a pack of three chicken legs sells at US$2.50. “We would not be able to break even at this price,” he said.
Suguna Foods deal in both branded meat products and live birds, with suppliers from contracted farmers. The company produces 400m chickens and 12,000 tonnes of processed chicken meat every year.
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Ramesh Chander Khatri, president of the Poultry Federation of India, said Indian traders hoped that imported US-made chicken legs maybe unable to compete with local produce on taste and texture grounds: “American chicken legs have less taste and too much fibre,” he said, “therefore they may not be liked by Indian consumers.”