You may be surprised to know that poultry and egg farms are the largest user of corn within the “animal feed” sector at 33 percent, followed by beef and pork. In total, the animal feed industry is the #1 customer of U.S. corn, consuming more than 5 billion bushels annually.
With corn prices trending so low and hearing from you that building demand is a priority, IL Corn continues to be a member of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) because the largest growth opportunity for U.S. poultry and egg sales is in the foreign markets.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with USAPEEC President Jim Sumner by the National Corn Growers Association. There is a lot to learn about this very important market opportunity.
NCGA: What is USAPEEC’s number one strategic priority?
Jim: Maintaining and developing new export markets for our chicken, turkey and egg industries is our top priority. An important key to our ability to compete globally is our industry’s access to high quality, reliable, and cost-competitive feed produced by U.S. corn farmers.
Another advantage exists around the balance of product preferences between foreign and domestic consumers. In many foreign markets, dark meat products such as legs and leg portions are preferred. However, the opposite is true in the U.S., where breast meat is preferred by consumers. In fact, domestic demand for breast meat from U.S. chickens and turkeys is large enough that it helps support very competitive prices when exporting U.S. dark meats.
NCGA: Over the next 10 years, what markets represent the greatest opportunity for growth in U.S. Poultry & Egg exports?
Jim: Our future will likely be contingent upon gaining greater access to developing countries in Africa and Asia. This includes China and hopefully even India at some point. We seek access to developed markets as well—just a couple of months ago, we opened New Zealand for turkey products. We’d like to place more emphasis on high value and value-added products, however, our success up to now has been the result of our ability to provide low-cost protein to developing economies throughout the world, which also makes a huge difference in people’s lives and diets.
NCGA: What characteristics of U.S. produced poultry and eggs are most valuable to foreign markets/foreign buyers?
Jim: Product quality and food safety. Quality relates directly to the feed our birds receive; no other country can compare with our feed quality. Some countries rely on other feeds including fish meal and other products that can negatively affect the flavor of the meat or the eggs. Plus, the U.S. is renowned for our government’s food safety oversight, which is in a class by itself. USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service ensures all U.S. chickens and turkeys are tested for avian diseases prior to slaughter and the Food Safety and Inspection Service has 3,200 inspectors across U.S. poultry facilities. This ensures that no infected birds or foodborne pathogens enter the food supply, allowing us to produce the safest and most wholesome products in the world.
NCGA: NCGA continues to support increased funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs. How are these funds used within your organization? How critical are they to growing foreign demand?
Jim: MAP & FMD funds are the basis for all of USAPEEC’s activities around the world, including our 14 international operations. Neither the broiler nor the chicken industry have checkoff programs, although we do receive funds from the egg industry checkoff program. Because of this, we are much more dependent on funding from MAP, FMD and our industry and commodity groups, including corn and soybean, than some other organizations. Of USAPEEC’s projected 2017 total budget of $13.6 million, 39 percent comes from MAP, 27 percent from industry, 26 percent from our commodity group members and 8 percent from FMD.
NCGA: If there was one thing the corn industry could do to better support the poultry and egg industries, what would that be?
Jim: First, I would like to say we most appreciate that NCGA joined our Board of Directors last year and has since begun supporting a couple of key projects. One area where we could use more support is balanced funding from corn as compared to other commodity groups that supports USAPEEC’s related activities and our industries’ mutual success. We’ve appreciated this opportunity extended by the National Corn Growers Association to explain our organization to your members and we look forward to continuing our partnership.
To learn more about USAPEEC, you can visit their website at http://www.usapeec.org.