RIO DE JANEIRO, posted
December 17, 2004, Andrew Downie, Christian Science Monitor -- CropChoice.com:
There are some things that will always be linked with Brazil:
soccer, sand, and samba, to name a few. Now there is a new -- and
unlikely -- name bidding for a place on the list: chicken.
Buoyed by fresh opportunities in the Middle East and Asia, Brazilian
poultry farmers have sharply increased production and are expected
to overtake the United States and end the year as the world's No.
1 chicken exporter.
Already the world's largest exporter of beef and soy beans, Brazil's
emergence as a poultry powerhouse is a sign of the country's growing
importance in the world of agriculture. Its modern and economical
production process, coupled with savvy trade deals with other developing
nations, is likely to have Brazil's competitors squawking for years
In 1997, Brazil's chicken exports were less than a third those
of the US. But production has taken off since 2000 -- growth averaged
20 percent the past two years -- and today Brazil exports to 127
different countries and controls 36 percent of the world share,
according to Claudio Martinez, executive director of the Brazilian
Association of Chicken Exporters.
The main markets are in the Middle East and Asia, particularly
China. With talks of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas
and a deal with the European Union breaking down, Brazil has forged
closer trade ties with behemoths in the developing world. President
Luíz Inacio Lula da Silva has aggressively pursued better
relations with countries like China, Russia, and India.
The Chinese in particular are keen to strengthen trade relations
with Latin America. Chinese Premier Hu Jintao last month promised
to invest more than $100 billion in the region over the next 10
years. Brazilian chicken exporters would benefit through a deal
government officials said will be worth $200 million a year by 2005.
The agreement will help boost Brazilian exports to a region already
feasting on Brazilian drumsticks. When Asian producers were laid
low by Avian influenza earlier this year, their Brazilians competitors
moved in, and exports to Asia went up 84 percent between January
There are other, more established reasons for the rise, Mr. Martinez
adds. Brazil's industry is relatively new and therefore modern.
Production costs are up to 25 percent lower than in the US. And
sanitary controls have helped keep the country's birds free of pests.
American officials say Brazil cannot guarantee their birds are
disease free and so are banned from the US. Brazil strenuously rejects
that claim and banned US imports in retaliation. Brazilian officials
say they hope that, as the two biggest exporters, they can set an
example and overcome the stalemate. The planned creation of a world
poultry exporters organization would help producers resolve conflicts,
If it does, Americans might recognize there is more to Brazil than
Portuguese and Pele. Now there's poultry, too.