Thai chicken exports to Japan, S. Korea to fully recover in 2 years

BANGKOK, NNA - Thailand anticipates full recovery of its chicken meat exports to Japan and South Korea in two years thanks to the lifting of a ban on exports of Thai poultry products imposed following the outbreak of bird flu virus H5N1.

Exports of Thai raw chicken meat to Japan have been gradually recovering since January 2014 when Japan agreed to reopen its market to Thai poultry products, including chilled and frozen raw chicken.

Exports of Thai raw chicken meat to Japan in the first nine months of this year reached 79,374 tons (valued at about 7.1 billion baht), up 17 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce's statistics.

Japan and South Korea banned imports of all poultry products but cooked and processed poultry meat from Thailand in 2004 due to the bird flu scare. Japan was the biggest importer of Thai raw chicken meat in 2003, accepting up to 178,776 tons.

Kukrit Arepagorn, manager of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association, told NNA that his association expects exports of Thai raw chicken meat to Japan to climb to nearly 200,000 tons in the next two years due to the lifting of the ban, hygienic concerns about chicken meat from China and record numbers of foreign tourists to Japan, which will boost chicken consumption.

South Korea is also expected to resume imports of raw chicken meat from Thailand at the end of this year pending the results of inspections of several Thai processing plants by South Korean authorities.

Once Seoul lifts the ban, exports of Thai raw chicken meat will total 10,000 tons next year and rise to the pre-2004 level of 40,000 tons, Kukrit said.

He added that overall Thai exports of both raw and cooked chicken this year will grow 6 percent to reach 720,000 tons.

Japan is reemerging as the No. 1 importer accounting for 48 percent of the total, followed by Europe at 41 percent. Other major importers include South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Middle East countries. (NNA/Kyodo)