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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Markets -> 
Guangdong Wen’s goes to lab for meatier chickens
    2018-06-14  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

GUANGDONG Wen’s Foodstuff Co., China’s top poultry producer, is turning to genetic science to target the country’s fast-growing supermarket and fast-food sectors.

Guangdong Wen’s is drawing on an in-house gene bank and breeding unit to create new varieties of meatier chickens for processing at slaughterhouses to better serve restaurant chains and supermarkets, said Wen Pengcheng, a director of the company and its largest shareholder.

“You need a certain weight, the body should look good, the taste must suit people’s expectations,” he said, describing the chickens the company was aiming for.

If successful, Guangdong Wen’s could start eating into the sales of companies like Fujian Sunner Development Co. that sell broiler chickens bred for their meat efficiency.

The firm is making the move at a time when its main business — pigs — is suffering from a dramatic slump in prices. Net profits in 2017 fell 42.6 percent to 6.8 billion yuan on revenues of 55.7 billion yuan (US$8.70 billion).

Earnings are set to fall further this year amid an oversupply of hogs in the market. First quarter profits were down 4.4 percent to 1.4 billion yuan, and Guangdong Wen’s shares have lost 15 percent of their value since the start of the year.

But despite a price/earnings ratio that lags smaller, more specialized peers like poultry processor Fujian Sunner or the pig producer Muyuan Foods, Guangdong Wen’s was big enough to ride out prolonged losses from its pig business, said Chen Lu, analyst at Zhongtai Securities.

“There has always been this cyclical volatility,” she said, adding that the poultry unit would help to “flatten” the risk.

Guangdong Wen’s is China’s leading producer of native breeds, also known as yellow-feathered chickens, which account for about 40 percent of the country’s poultry market, or 4.7 million tons last year.

The slower-growing chickens are preferred over white-feathered broilers bred by global companies for their stronger taste in popular dishes like stewed hen soup, as well as their firmer meat and widely assumed superior nutritional merits.

Guangdong Wen’s plan is to develop native chickens that are meatier as well as being tasty.

Some smaller producers of the native birds, like Hunan Xiangjia Animal Husbandry, already have growing sales in supermarkets and online grocers.

Hunan Xiangjia said processed chicken now accounts for more than half of its sales, or about 646 million yuan last year.

Guangdong Wen’s currently sells about 80 percent of its poultry, or around 600 million birds a year, live to markets, said Wen.

A shift into retail by the world’s fifth-largest poultry company could have a big impact on the market, said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.

“It will definitely impact white meat, with consumers trading up and looking for better tasting product,” she said, referring to the white-feathered chickens.

Guangdong Wen’s has been forced to pay more attention to new sales channels. The habit of buying poultry alive to guarantee freshness has made the company vulnerable to market shutdowns during bird flu outbreaks in recent years.

Almost 300 people died during China’s worst ever bird flu outbreak last year, many of them workers in the live poultry trade.

Closed markets and a 30 percent drop in poultry prices pushed Guangdong Wen’s 2017 profits down by 46 percent.

Though sales recovered when markets reopened in late spring, markets are expected to face regular closures, with some closing altogether as authorities try to curb the spread of disease.

Demand from such markets will also decline as younger, busy urbanites opt for more convenient food channels.

(SD-Agencies)

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