* Exports down 0.6 percent in 2012
* Brazil is world's No. 1 chicken meat exporter
* Grain prices blamed for drop in 2012 exports
By Fabiola Gomes
SAO PAULO, Jan 15 Brazil's chicken meat exports
should increase by about 3 percent this year after falling in
2012 due to high feed costs, the country's poultry association,
Ubabef, said on Tuesday.
The association expects better demand from countries in Asia
and Africa and a greater emphasis on processed foods to raise
the value of sales and to compensate for high grain prices in
the past year in the world's top chicken meat exporter.
"This year, we want to improve the quality of chicken meat
and add value to exports," said Francisco Turra, president of
the Brazilian Poultry Union (Ubabef).
In 2012, more expensive processed chicken products accounted
for just 5 percent of Brazil's total export volume, but that
amount could increase as companies like BRF Brasil Foods
and Marfrig bet on processed products.
Turra said he expected increasing demand from emerging
markets in Africa to boost sales in 2013. Brazil also hopes to
conquer Asian markets like India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Brazil accounts for 39.7 percent of the world's chicken
exports, followed by the United States with 32.5 percent. Brazil
lost a bit of market share last year, as it had accounted for
41.4 percent of global exports in 2011.
Brazil's chicken production in 2012 fell 3.17 percent from
2011 to 12.645 million tonnes, Ubabef said. It was the first
year output had fallen since 2000. Exports in 2012 were down 0.6
percent from 2011.
Grain prices rose to record levels mid-way
through last year after drought slashed production in the United
States, the world's top producer of soy and corn, driving up the
cost of poultry feed.
Turra said he believed grain prices would remain firm for
the first half of 2013 despite expectations for a record
Brazilian soybean harvest and a strong corn harvest to hit
international markets soon.
In August, Turra reported that 20 of the association's 80
members, who range from small producers to large international
exporters, were in financial difficulties because of the cost of