Exports to Muslim countries currently account for around 43% of total poultry exports from Ukraine, or around 80,000 tonnes (t) per year. According to the country’s analytical agency, Ukrainian Club of Agricultural Business, during the first seven months of the year the largest importer, Iraq, purchased poultry to the value of US$36.7 million, which accounted for 28% of Ukraine’s poultry exports.
Exports to Muslim countries are growing by 10-15% year-on-year, according to the country’s agricultural ministry. If trade continues at this pace, volumes could reach 120,000t by 2020.
The Kiev office of Islamic organisation Alraid, which certifies halal products from Ukraine for export, said the number of applications for certification of halal products had doubled since the beginning of the year.
The two largest poultry producers in the country, MHP and Agromars, which together make up around 75% of the total market, have launched several lines for the production of halal poultry. Representatives from MHP said that the company considers exports to Muslim countries as an important part of its export strategy.
"The preparation of meat for export at our plant is under the control of two representatives from Alraid that monitor the production and recite prayers during the slaughter of poultry," said export sales manager Sergey Gorbenko.
MHP is already supplying halal poultry to most countries in the Persian Gulf, including the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. However Ukraine has struggled to initiate supplies of poultry to Saudi Arabia. This issue was discussed at the end of August in Kiev between representatives of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and a trade delegation from Saudi Arabia.
As a result of the meeting, a preliminary agreement has been agreed that will see both parties work on trying to restore exports of poultry to Saudi Arabia, where they have been banned since 2008.
"We are very interested in cooperation with Ukraine," said the head of the delegation Mohammed Alblovi. "Ukraine reveals itself as a reliable partner. Also, we see the desire of your state for the introduction of European standards. Therefore, we are ready to increase the supply of Ukrainian food products."
At the same time, the Russian market is closed to almost all food products from Ukraine, including poultry. According to official data, exports to Russia totalled US$ 1 billion last year.
Head of the Union of Poultry Breeders of Ukraine, Alexandr Bakumenko, stated that supplies to Russia during the first half of the year were affected by non-tariff barriers, rather than an import ban.