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A chicken raiser is pictured at his poultry farm in Dong Nai Province, located in southern Vietnam.
On Tuesday, the Animal Husbandry Association in southeastern Vietnam and its counterpart in the southern province of Dong Nai both signed petitions for a dumping investigation to be undertaken, and submitted the complaints to the government and relevant agencies.
The associations also called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Animal Health Department to create conditions for local businesses to export chicken to Japan to offset the losses caused by dirt-cheap U.S. imports on home soil.
The move came after Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported on July 1 that chicken legs shipped from the U.S. are on sale in the Southeast Asian country at only US$0.9 a kg, or VND20,000.
In 2013, the price was a bit higher, $1.5 a kg.
The director of a Dong Nai-based poultry company was then quoted by the newspaper as saying that such a price is “as cheap as vegetables,” which no local meat suppliers are able to undercut.
The Vietnamese minister of agriculture and rural development later said in a televised interview that chicken legs are exported at throwaway prices because the U.S. market only consumes chicken breasts, which are sold at much more expensive rates.
But the southeastern Animal Husbandry Association was not convinced, and thus decided to send its people to the U.S. to verify the minister’s explanation.
The association eventually found out that chicken legs and wings are being sold at prices four to five times more expensive than they are in Vietnam.
“Chicken legs in supermarkets in the U.S. fetch VND70,000-80,000 [$3.2-3.6] a kg, compared to VND20,000 a kg in Vietnam,” said Le Van Quyet, the association’s deputy chairman.
In 2014 Vietnam imported around 80,000 metric tons of chicken products, but imports in the first half of this year alone topped 50,000 metric tons, nearly 70 percent of which were from the U.S, according to the association.
“It is unreasonable that U.S. chicken legs in Vietnam, with all taxes and fees included, still cost only a quarter of what they are priced at home,” Quyet said.
Diep Hoang, a technician at Koyu & Unitek, a poultry firm in Dong Nai, said if U.S. chicken legs fetch VND20,000 a kg in Vietnam, it means their cost prices are below VND10,000 a kg, if excluding all costs.
“You can only buy a kilogram of cheap animal feed with VND10,000,” she said. “It is thus impossible for U.S. chicken legs to sell at VND20,000 a kg.”
Vietnamese poultry firms are hoping that the government will take action, as they are all on the verge of bankruptcy.
Imported chicken now accounts for around 40 percent of the total poultry raised domestically, according to Le Thanh Phuong, director of Emivest Vietnam Co.
“The domestic husbandry sector cannot survive given such a huge volume of [imported] products sold at such dirt cheap prices,” he said.
The Animal Husbandry Association in southeastern Vietnam said local poultry businesses have had to sell at a loss over the past 11 months, with total losses amounting to nearly VND1 trillion ($45.93 million).
“The husbandry sector hopes that the government will restrict imports of chicken, but we don’t know how long it can survive,” deputy chairman Nguyen Van Ngoc said.