IMPORTS of day-old chicks (DOC) — the key raw material for the poultry industry — rose 8% year-on-year in the nine months to September, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

Imports of DOCs, which are raised to become broiler chickens, hit 1.498 million in the first nine months of 2019, from 1.376 million a year earlier.

Imports of grandparent stock Female-Line-Female (GP FLF) DOCs totaled 351,520, up 17% year-on-year, while parent stock (PS) female DOC imports totaled 1.146 million, up 6% year-on-year.

The top sources of imports were the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Denmark, and Austria.

“The breeder industry has noted a problem or decline in the productivity of traditional breeds such as Cobb and Ross. That is why they are also trying other breeds such as Arbor Acres,” Lary Nel B. Abao, market specialist III of the DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, said in an e-mail.

He noted that at current rates of importation, shipments could hit 1.822 million by the end of 2019, up 23% year-on-year, with GP FLF accounting for 473,563, and PS female 1.348 million.

For 2020, Mr. Abao said: “The continuing threat of African Swine Fever (ASF) might turn the tide in favor of chicken companies as pork eaters continue to switch to chicken consumption. The world market is also a factor as China might gobble up majority of the GP and PS imports because of continuing ASF problems,” he added.

United Broilers and Raisers Association Chairman Gregorio A. San Diego said the level of imports indicate that the industry expects consumers to continue consuming more chicken than pork, which could produce a broiler oversupply in 2020.

“Importing DOC for broiler production is very expensive and I will be surprised if this is true. The impact will be broiler over supply up to 2020,” he said in a text message.

“I think we have more than enough breeders here at present. If true, maybe they are anticipating that low pork consumption will linger for quite some time but with huge volume of chicken meat imports coming in and with huge inventory of frozen pork in cold storage I think we’ll have a chicken oversupply after Christmas extending to the 1st quarter of 2020,” he added. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang