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Rebound in exports of frozen chicken seen in 2014

THAILAND'S exports of frozen chicken could rise by 150,000 tonnes or more next year after Japan's announced on December 9 it would lift its 10-year import ban.

"If exports rose by 150,000 tonnes, that would generate about Bt10 billion in sales," Doojduan Sasanavin, deputy secretary-general of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, said yesterday.

Thailand could become the first Asian country to export frozen chicken to the country. Japan imposed the ban late in 2003 after some incidences of bird flu were found in Thailand in the fourth quarter; a major outbreak was confirmed in early 2004. The safety of Thailand's poultry has again been in focus since another outbreak in 2008, but it now has been declared free of the disease.

Doojduan said the bureau and the Agriculture Ministry had lobbied hard for an end to the ban.

Officials from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries visited Thailand to inspect the production chain from quarantine checkpoints to the factory. They also acquainted themselves on Thailand's measures to suppress avian influenza and showed confidence in its efficient and high standards, she said.

"The negotiations were part of food-safety cooperation under the Japan-Thai Economic Partnership Agreement framework. It marks another success for the Agriculture Ministry in opening markets for quality products, which will benefit Thai farmers in the long run," she said.

Caretaker Agriculture Minister Yokol Limlemthong has said Thailand has been free of bird flu for four years now, but there were mandatory steps to be taken before its frozen chicken could be sold in the Japanese market.

Doojduan said the Livestock Development Department was now working on the health certification for Japan's consideration. That should not take long and poultry exports should resume next month.

Some Japanese traders have already made contacts with local suppliers, she said.

Of the 422,000 tonnes of imported frozen chicken that Japan bought last year, more than 90 per cent was from Brazil and some of the rest from the United States. It also imported 453,000 tonnes of cooked chicken, mainly from Thailand and China.

In 2003 before the import ban was imposed, Japan took delivery of 150,000 tonnes of frozen chicken from Thailand.

Doojduan said that with the lifting of the ban, Thailand would steal the No 1 market position from Brazil in terms of frozen-chicken exports.

This month, Singapore allowed frozen Thai chicken back into its market after nine years. It set one condition - that the birds must be raised in a closed system or in a compartment, which is a new standard set by the Livestock Department to control bird flu.


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