RED DEER — Chicken producers are crying foul over the amount of imported mature birds entering Canada for processing.
Imports of mature birds from laying and breeding operations are growing each year and displacing domestic poultry, said Dave Janzen, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada.
“We know consumers want chicken that is fresh and from a Canadian farm,” he said at the Alberta Chicken Producers annual meeting in Red Deer Feb. 26.
Last year’s imports increased 25 percent from 2011, with 106 million kilograms entering Canada. Most of it is used for further processing such as chicken nuggets and ground product, but some is sold as fresh.
It represents 10 percent of the Canadian market.
“While we see overall growth of chicken at the retail food service, the domestic chicken is not benefitting from this growth,” said provincial chair Erna Ference.
“It is a bonus for somebody importing it into Canada compared to dom-estic meat, but it is not the same quality because it is old, spent hens.”
There is no limit on how many mature birds can be imported be-cause they do not come under the tariff rate quotas used to protect Canada’s supply management system.
Janzen said some foreign processors are using 51 percent fowl and 49 percent broiler chicken for further processed products to circumvent import rules.
Canadian producers want it labelled and say government inspectors should certify that the shipments coming in are actually mature fowl.