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In region of orient express chicken's on the fast track. (The Balkans).

Once the territory of Eric Ambler thrillers, the Balkans are now the territory of US poultry exports. Since 1998, they have grown 35% and during the first nine months of 2001 reached $30 million.

Demand in the Balkans--Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Yugoslavia--should continue to grow as the region recovers from the wars and economic dislocations of the 1990s, according to Holly Higgins, agricultural attache at the US Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Still, there are obstacles to the poultry trade, chiefly high tariffs throughout the region. In Bulgaria, for example, a 74% tariff on broiler leg quarters has driven a major portion of the international poultry trade into the black market. Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia all give special breaks, including import and export quotas as well as tariffs, to the European Union.

Most imported poultry destined for the Balkans arrives at the Greek port, of Thessalonika, and then continues to other countries by truck. Most shipments to Romania, however, arrive by truck from Hungary. A lack of cold storage space on the Black Sea coast has limited direct imports to Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova, although the situation is improving. The Romanian port of Tulcea has new cold storage facilities for frozen poultry, for example, and the Bulgarian port of Burgas is building new coldstores.

The Balkans don't produce enough chicken to meet their own needs, and local product is usually consumed fresh on a daily basis. Hungarian chicken arrives frozen, but only in whole form. Only US suppliers offer a whole range of products, such as leg quarters, at competitive prices. But import prices fluctuate widely, from $700 to $1,200 a ton, which makes it hard to keep up steady shipments.
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Title Annotation:Balkans
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EXBU
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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