China has announced that it is launching an investigation into Brazilian poultry imports following claims that the country is selling its chicken below market value.
The anti-dumping move follows a complaint by the Chinese domestic industry that Brazil was under-cutting its suppliers.
China has already this year inflicted heavy penalties on sugar imports from top growers, such as Brazil and Thailand, following lobbying by domestic mills.
The investigation is a significant one, reports Reuters, as Brazil accounted for more than 50% of broiler product supplied to China between 2013-6.
Brazil replaced the US as the major supplier to China in 2010 and China is the largest national consumer of Brazilian meat.
The Chinese food industry uses white feathered broiler chickens – favoured by burgeoning fast-food chains – for their rapid development and plumper meat, compared to yellow-feathered birds, which are produced domestically.
Confidence in Chinese poultry has taken a blow over the past year due to ongoing avian influenza outbreaks, which sent prices plummeting in February to more than decade lows.
If China targets Brazilian poultry, it would be a major blow to the sector, which is only just recovering following the rotten meat scandal. Trade figures for the first half of this year show export volumes down more than 4% year-on-year.
Last month was the first this year that chicken exports had posted a year-on-year rise.