Ukraine crisis | India looking to boost egg and poultry exports to Ukraine’s international markets

India’s push to capture Ukraine’s international markets for eggs revolves around boosting shipments to the UAE, which account for almost 40 percent of Ukraine’s egg exports

India is looking to boost its egg and poultry exports in the wake of the war in Ukraine which has wrecked that country’s exports of the produce. New Delhi plans to quickly establish exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, among Ukraine’s largest markets for the products.

While it hasn’t featured in the list of major egg-producing nations in Europe, Ukraine was considered to be the poultry source for large parts of Central and Eastern Europe till a decade ago. Ukrainian company Avangardco remains the continent’s biggest egg producer, producing both shelled eggs and egg products.

Much of India’s push to capture Ukraine’s international markets revolves around boosting sales of Indian poultry meat and eggs in the UAE. The Emirates accounted for almost 40 percent of Ukraine’s egg exports, according to the Ukraine State Statistical Service.

In December 2021, the UAE lifted a five-year-old ban on the import of eggs and other poultry products from India. The move followed an assurance by New Delhi that it would follow biosafety norms set by the World Organisation for Animal Health to prevent infection from bird flu. This change in policy allowed India to export table eggs, hatching eggs and day-old chicks to the country.

“The largest shipments of bird eggs from India flow to Oman and Maldives, followed by Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, Japan and Vietnam. Overall, the Middle East is the largest market for eggs. However, despite being the largest buyer in the region, the UAE has historically bought only a fraction of all Indian poultry products that flowed into the region. We want to change that,” a commerce department official said.

Ukraine’s poultry industry had been taking major hits even before the Russian invasion began in late February. In 2021, Ukraine’s egg production plummeted by 25 percent (3 billion eggs) compared to 2020, according to the Ukraine Association of Poultry Producers, media reports from that country had earlier reported.

Ukraine’s poultry stock dropped by 11 million head during the past two years, while broiler meat production decreased by 40,000 tonnes, the reports said. Most of this was blamed on unprecedentedly high electricity, natural gas and feedstuff prices in the aftermath of successive waves of the Covid pandemic.

However, long-term contracts and industry linkages meant that Ukrainian companies continued to monopolise supplies to the UAE and other markets right up to the beginning of the war.

Hopes of poultry boost

In India, egg production had been growing at a rate of 8 percent annually according to government estimates. Tamil Nadu is the biggest egg exporter state in India accounting for more than half of all such shipments. It is followed by Maharashtra and Kerala. The combined share of these top three states in egg exports is a huge 95 percent.

Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are also witnessing fast growth in the poultry sector. The segment still has major room for growth given that eggs only constituted the 629th most exported item from the country.

“India’s push to sell poultry products abroad came after the government saw the massive export opportunities in the agri space, just waiting to be exploited. Poultry meanwhile has been increasingly favoured by farmers as a source of added income in parts of the country,” said a senior official from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

Export of poultry products stood at $71 million in FY22, up 21 percent from $51.7 million in FY21, he said.

Overall exports of agricultural products (including that of marine and plantation products) for 2021-22 crossed $50 billion, the highest level ever achieved. According to the provisional figures released by the government, agri exports grew by 19.9 percent during 2021-22 to touch $50.2 billion, up from $41.87 billion. This was higher than the growth of 17.6 percent achieved in 2020-21.