India’s poultry industry offers potential for corn exports

India’s poultry industry currently sells 95% of its product through wet markets, fresh food markets where animals are sold live and then processed either onsite or in the consumer’s home. These wet markets pose numerous sanitary risks and are inaccessible to long-distance consumers.

Moving to a processed poultry market would give India better control of food safety and quality, and would over time increase consumer confidence. It would also enhance the ability to transport processed poultry products to distant markets and ultimately expand poultry consumption — all of which would lead to a higher per capita poultry consumption.

“India’s poultry production is just as efficient as the United States, but they have yet to convince Indian consumers to purchase processed poultry meat,” said Adel Yusupov, U.S. Grains Council regional director in Southeast Asia. “Even though India’s government has yet to enforce food safety standards, the Council believes that though a series of seminars and discussion with other Southeast Asia poultry companies the Indian poultry industry will take it upon themselves to sell a good, safe product to the consumer.”

Consumer education is a key to unlocking this potential. Indian consumers believe that by purchasing at a wet market they can select a fresh, healthy product. These consumers are reluctant to purchase processed products and favor wet markets that they believe allow them to select a superior product. While the traditional preference for freshness is understandable, processed products offer important marketable advantages, especially with regard to superior quality control, minimization of health risks, and product availability.

The U.S. Grains Council organized a series of seminars to educate poultry integrators about how to run a successful marketing campaign to promote processed poultry products. At a recent seminar, Awi Tantra, director of PT Sierad Produce in Indonesia, was sponsored by the Council to share how PT Sierad Produce moved from a wet market to a processed market. Other USGC speakers shared ideas from countries such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, where government support made it possible for the industry to change to a processed market.

India’s poultry sector is the fourth largest in the world, placing 3 billion chicks per year, and is one of the biggest consumers of corn in India. This country’s large poultry industry uses almost 9 million metric tons (354 million bushels) of corn annually, which could increase if the poultry industry continues to grow.

Although India does not offer immediate prospects for U.S. coarse grain and co-product exports, India remains an import player in the global grain supply chain. Today India is a corn exporter, but the projections indicate that India’s feed demand eventually will outpace its domestic supply and that India may become a net importer of coarse grains and co-products in the future. Through programs like this, the U.S. Grains Council fosters new demand for Indian poultry, which ultimately will increase the demand for U.S. grains from the Indian poultry production sector as they increase production to meet new market demand.

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