China increasingly relies on Russian poultry

China increasingly relies on Russian poultry
China has emerged as a pivotal market for Russian poultry exporters in recent years. Photo: Canva

Russia secured a spot among the top 3 largest poultry meat suppliers on the Chinese market in 2023. This achievement is expected to pave the way for a substantial increase in volumes in the coming years, marking a significant shift in the global poultry trade dynamics, according to Russian officials.

Russia accounted for 10.5% of Chinese poultry imports last year, estimated to be close to 1.2 million tonnes, Agroexport, a Russian agency facilitating agricultural export reported, citing the data from the Chinese government.

China has emerged as a pivotal market for Russian poultry exporters in recent years. In 2023, a 56% of all deliveries to countries outside of the post-Soviet space were destined for China, according to the Russian Union of Poultry Farmers. This underscores the strategic importance of the Chinese market for the Russian poultry industry.

The rise of Russian poultry in the Chinese market was further fueled by a decline in the market share of US suppliers. Daria Podymova, head of the foreign trade department with the Russian Union of Poultry Farmers, noted that Russian companies managed to eat into the market share that once belonged to US suppliers. This shift was largely attributed to a 29.6% drop in US poultry sales to China in the wake of a series of highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks, as claimed by Podymova.

Tricky market

The looming economic difficulties have made China a challenging market for foreign suppliers.

“Significant factors in China include the sale by large transnational companies of their production facilities on its territory, including due to low consumer demand in 2023,” Podymova said, adding that the market also experiences a major transition towards ready-to-eat food, which shapes up the demand in all segments of the meat industry.

“The Chinese poultry industry is experiencing rather complex development dynamics with continued dependence on imports, which in turn opens up the opportunity for Russian exporters to increase supply volumes, including through the opening of new sales channels,” Podymova assumed.

Focus on by-products

China is mainly increasing imports of pork and poultry by-products, said Konstantin Korneev, executive director of Rincon Management, a Moscow-based think tank. For Russian firms, trade with China provides a unique opportunity to turn the poultry cuts considered waste into marketable products.

“These [the exported products] are mainly paws, wings, phalanges of bird wings, and the export of these parts to the [Chinese] republic will grow since there is a demand for them that is higher than the local supply,” Korneev said.

“But this is not about reorienting China towards supplies from Russia; the republic is increasing purchases from several countries,” Korneev pointed out.

New contracts

However, Agroexport reported that during a recent round of negotiations between the Russian and Chinese trade delegations, several Chinese companies expressed interest in boosting imports from Russia. For example, the agency cited Beijing Xinshengbaili Trade, a prominent trader that promised to import 100-200 containers of meat products per year from Russia in the foreseeable future.

Join 31,000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all the need-to-know content in the poultry sector, three times a week.
Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern European correspondent