How Ukrainian poultry becomes EU produce
The export procedures of Ukrainian poultry producer MHP have proved controversial. The EU has responded by changing its quotas for duty-free imports of chicken meat from Ukraine — but there may be further consequences.
Author Iurii Sheiko, Deutsche Welle (Germany)
Chicken meat producer Myronivsky Hliboproduct (MHP) is owned by Yuriy Kosyuk, known as the Ukrainian "poultry baron." The company is the market leader in Ukraine, and over the past few years it has been expanding its operations abroad. MHP has hit on a cunning way of circumventing the EU's quota system, which allowed it to significantly boost its exports to the European Union. According to its own figures, MHP alone supplied more than 100,000 tons of chicken meat to the EU this past year.
The Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine established a free trade zone. This allows Ukrainian companies to export almost all categories of poultry to the EU without tariffs – but specific quotas are applied. In the current year, 2019, that quota is 18,400 tons. It's set to rise to 20,000 tons between now and 2021, then remain at that level. An additional 20,000 tons is designated for frozen poultry.
Meat on and off the bone
However, Austria's Kurier newspaper says that for years now MHP has been using a trick to get around these export limitations. The quota limits EU imports of chicken breast fillet – the most expensive piece of chicken meat. The Kurier reports that a bone is therefore left on the meat when the birds are carved up in Ukraine. These pieces can then be classified as inferior, meaning that there's no limit on the amount that can be exported to the EU.
The report goes on to explain that MHP has factories in Slovakia and in the Netherlands where the bone is removed. The meat can then be classified as an EU product, and as such it can be sold not just within the EU itself, but can also be exported to third markets without incurring tariffs. According to news portal Politico, European farmers have complained that MHP has found an "ingenious and entirely legal" way of bypassing existing legislation.
The MHP press office confirmed to DW that the company exports poultry meat with bones to the EU for further processing, but pointed out that this complies with EU law. "Contrary to reports, MHP has not taken advantage of a loophole, but has at all times fully complied with EU regulations," said MHP's Anastasia Sobotyuk. "European institutions have confirmed to Ukrainian exporters of chicken meat that are subject to the various quota regulations that their procedure is legal."
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