Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a South-East Asian country with 52 million inhabitants, which after decades of stagnation and political isolation is experiencing huge economic, political and social transformations. Although the country’s economy is growing at an annual rate of 7 to 8% and the middle class is growing rapidly, various challenges remain.
Combined with market entry of international Quick Service Restaurant chains and an increasing number of tourists, there is an increasing demand for sustainable, locally produced and safe poultry products. The estimated annual growth is 12 to 15% until 2025.
Despite the rapid development of Myanmar’s poultry sector in recent years, the downstream segment (processing, cold storage and transport infrastructure) is still in an early stage.*
The Myanmar poultry sector certainly has prospects, but in a number of aspects the chain lags far behind other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Malaysia or Philippines, especially in terms of processing, logistics and market development. 98% of all broilers in Myanmar (3 million per week) are slaughtered at wet markets in townships. Slaughtering practices are at a relatively low level in terms of hygiene and food safety, working conditions and animal welfare. “However, the market for professionally processed poultry meat is developing rapidly,” says Jan Wouterse, Industry Sales Manager Southeast Asia for Marel. "The population’s purchasing power is increasing and there’s a growing demand for high-quality poultry meat, coming from QSR chains, large supermarket chains and the catering industry.”
1,000 chickens per hour
The new poultry processing plant is a result of Myanmar Poultry Cooperation, a project team including Marel, De Heus, Larive International and Wai Yang Aung. Dutch company De Heus is one of the pioneers in Myanmar developing safe food value chains. Larive is a Dutch consultancy company, renowned for knowing their way around in Asian and African economies.
The factory has a processing capacity of 1,000 bph. “By European standards, this may seem a very modest number, but compared to the wet market, it’s a big step forward towards a modern way of poultry processing. The automated slaughtering set-up including an overhead conveyor transporting the shackled chickens through scalding, plucking and evisceration processes is an example of modern technology. In Myanmar such a line speed means that the company is leading the way and serves as an example for others to follow, says Jan Wouterse, “As Marel, we have already paved the way for industrial poultry processing in many Asian countries by establishing the first processing plants and now we are doing the same in Myanmar."
Jan Wouterse refers to developments in the poultry sector in India, Pakistan and Indonesia. “In those countries, QSR chains such as KFC and McDonald's are the driving force behind the professionalization of meat processing. Food safety is a high priority for these parties. Myanmar is on the eve of a similar modernization wave. We expect that our processing plant will be able to play a positive role in the professionalization of the sector.”
Jan Wouterse emphasizes that the factory will not only be a commercial processing plant, but also an education and training center. "Workers were trained in the factory to operate the equipment properly. Good hygiene is an important part of the learning process we are setting up."
According to Matthias Brienen of Larive, Myanmar’s quality level of poultry meat processing in the country lags way behind Malaysia and Thailand, for example. "The way in which chickens are now kept, transported and slaughtered is causing problems in terms of animal well-being, food safety and product quality. The government of Myanmar is signaling these problems, but is not in a position to professionalize the sector. The Dutch poultry sector is globally leading and is able to take up this supporting role. And this is now happening with Marel’s new poultry processing plant."
Higher quality level
Until now, international market parties in Myanmar had a preference for poultry meat from neighboring countries. However, the border for imports is closed. This new model factory at Yangon/Rangoon will demonstrate that Myanmar itself is perfectly capable of bringing meat processing to a higher quality level. The intention is that the entire poultry sector in Myanmar will take a step forward and all Dutch partners are happy to assist.
* Source: Larive International