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Monday, Feb 02, 2004

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Ban on Thai chicken meat export — Suguna looking to tap additional export potential

G. Gurumurthy

Coimbatore , Feb. 1

THE Coimbatore-based broiler meat major Suguna Poultry group is sitting pretty to tap the additional business potential for its `Sugie' brand processed chicken in the face of market `vacuum' caused by the ban on chicken meat imports from Thailand by Japan and the EU, the major consumers of Thai chicken.

"We have received enquiries from Malaysia for supply of broiler meat", said Mr B. Soundararajan, Managing Director of Suguna Poultry Farm Ltd, the flagship of the Udumalpet-based Suguna group. The Rs 400-crore Suguna group is already an exporter of processed chicken to the Gulf market through its 100 per cent export-oriented joint venture, Supreme Suguna Foods Company.

"Everybody in the Indian poultry is expecting that the latest development involving the bird flu outbreak in the countries, including Pakistan and Thailand, would pep up demand for Indian birds and the prices for the broiler in international market would go up in another ten days or so", Mr Soundararajan told Business Line. Mr Soundararajan's optimism on higher export enquiries for the Indian broiler meat seems stemming from the logic that with chicken meat shipments from Thailand, that accounted for a 7 lakh tonnes per annum export to Japan and the EU, going off, Brazil will be the single largest supply source to meet the demands in the countries hitherto served by Thailand. But Brazil would not be able to cover the entire demand.

It has, therefore, opened up new opportunity for the Indian broiler exporters to capture the newer export markets and the market fall-outs caused by the vacation of Thai. "Leave alone the pockets that can't be served by Brazil, the East Asian regions will send out import enquiries for hatching eggs and broilers from India and the possibility is bright", he adds.

As for the ban on broiler imports from Pakistan by Kuwait, a member of the Gulf nations, and the possibility of other nations in the region following suit, Mr Soundararajan held the view that one had to wait and watch how the situation would turn there. Supreme Suguna Foods exports processed chicken to the West Asia with most of its exports targeting Saudi Arabia where its joint venture partner is located. "Right now, our exports to the West Asian markets remain normal and there has been no hitch", he added.

The Suguna group will be particularly watchful about the prices in the West Asian markets for chicken meat and right now, its shipments to these destinations are believed to be fetching around $1,100 per tonne.

Supreme Suguna, which has increased the processed chicken production to 35,000 birds per day, is said to have touched the monthly shipment of 1,000 tonnes.

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