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UNECE adopts new international trade standard for processed poultry meat preparations and products

UNECE adopts new international trade standard for processed poultry meat preparations and products

On 30 September 2014 UNECE will adopt the first international quality standard for processed poultry meat. This new standard reflects the growing international trade in ready-to-eat products (RTE) and ready-to-cook preparations (RTC) of all types of poultry meat (chicken, turkey, duck and goose). It not only sets the minimum quality requirements for cutting, handling and packing the raw poultry meat, but It also provides concise word and picture descriptions of product composition and cooking methods and defines a coding system to trace and specify product and packaging characteristics of the final processed poultry product.
This standard will also provide sellers and buyers with easy to understand conformity assessments, which corresponds to good commercial practice for meat and meat products. The standard focuses on two mean aspects; the first of which is retail, where the consumer is be able to directly purchase RTE and RTC poultry products; the second would be restaurants where the products are served to the customer. Thus, this standard aims to create a better communication between buyer and seller as to product purchased, increases traceability and will help to greatly reduce disputes between interested parties.
Poultry meat is a prime source of protein and remains the most accessible and popular meat option in many countries around the world. The principal exporters of processed poultry meat are US, Thailand, Brazil, China, and the EU. Poultry is also the second largest meat source in the world, just behind pig meat, with some 106.8 million tonnes produced in 2013 (estimates – FAO 2013 food outlook). It is by far the first meat item traded in the world; with some 43% of the total traded volumes.
According to FAO, the annual per capita consumption of meat has doubled since 1980 in developing countries, and it is estimated to continue growing on per capita consumption (see table 1). World meat production is projected to double by 2050, with developing countries accounting for 80% of this growth. For this reason, International quality standards in the meat industry are more needed than ever before.

Table 1

Poultry consumption








Consumption, Kt

109 073.94

114 023.13

119 164.75

124 150.46


Consumption per capita, Kg





Source: 2013-2022 OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlooks
Product quality is of utmost importance for producers, consumers and the food industry alike. Agricultural quality standards for meat are therefore not only important for producers, traders, exporters and importers but also consumers. They provide guidance on trading quality processed poultry products and foster traceability and quality management.
The new standard for processed poultry meat products will be UNECE’s 16th meat standard developed since 2004 to facilitate the international trade of meat. UNECE provides a forum for Governments, the private sector as well as research institutes and other interested organizations, to develop internationally harmonized agricultural standards which promote high quality, sustainable production and market transparency for producers, traders, and consumers.