STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – For the first quarter (1Q) of 2012, US poultry exports set year-on-year records in quantity and value, based on trade data released last week by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

When compared to 1Q 2011, January-March export quantity of US poultry meat totaled 984,947 metric tons, up 14 percent, while the value of those shipments increased to $1.302 billion, up 27 percent. As a result, both set all-time records, according to the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

For March, US poultry exports also set quantity and value records, reaching 339,220 tons valued at $459.4 million, up 9.3 and 21.8 percent, respectively, over March 2011.

In March, monthly exports of broiler meat – excluding chicken paws – totaled 269,755 tons, rising 7 percent from March 2011, while export value increased to $343.2 million, up 23 percent, which were both fueled by increased shipments to Cuba, Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan.

Broiler-meat (excluding paws) exports for the first quarter totaled 787,722 tons valued at $796.3 million, up respectively by 14 and 31 percent.

For Mexico, the top market for US poultry, first-quarter broiler meat shipments increased by 11 percent year-over-year to 128,274 metric tons. Exports to Russia increased 91 percent to 52,968 tons, exports to Cuba climbed four-fold to 45,072 tons, while shipments to Taiwan increased 9 percent to 40,962 tons.

During the first quarter, exports to other important markets were Hong Kong, 37,226 tons, down 34 percent; Canada, 35,965 tons, up 11 percent; Iraq (including transshipments via Turkey) 35,875 tons, up 7 percent; Angola, 26,557 tons, down 8 percent; South Korea, 22,141 tons, down 20 percent; and Kazakhstan, 21,443 tons, up nine-fold year-on-year.

For March, US chicken-paw exports totaled 35,472 tons valued at $48.3 million, up 43 and 33 percent, respectively, from March 2011. Shipments to Hong Kong increased by 36.2 percent to 31,419 tons, while exports to mainland China were up 169.4 percent to 3,793 tons.

First-quarter exports of chicken paws reached 101,544 tons at $134.5 million, up 29 and 14 percent year on year, respectively. Export value set a year-on-year record, while export quantity was slightly lower than the record set in 2008.

Meanwhile, US turkey meat exports increased 9 percent to 29,111 tons in March over March 2011, while value was up 24 percent to $57.8 million. Export quantity and value both set records for the month.

Cumulative first-quarter 2012 turkey exports also set records for quantity and value, reaching 82,053 tons valued at $160.5 million. These represent respective increases of 13 and 28 percent from the same period a year earlier. Exports to Mexico, the top market, increased to 46,947 tons at $98.8 million, up 13 and 25 percent year-on-year, respectively.

During the first quarter, the top-five markets accounted for 79 percent of US turkey meat exports, with Mexico accounting for 57 percent.