Grown in America, Processed in China, Sold in America: A Case of Globetrotting Chickens

By Lauren Donia


According to a Consumer Reports poll, 92 percent of Americans want to know where their food comes from.

At the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) we wonder how many of those people would be willing to buy and cook chicken from China.

Bill Tomson and Tarini Parti at Politico reported last week that such a consumer option may be a possibility quite soon. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sending two top officials to China this week to discuss making Chinese chicken in the United States a reality…despite ongoing concerns over bird flu outbreaks and food safety issues in China.

According to Politico:

Though the initial subject of conversation for the USDA officials, in Beijing, is to be the import of chickens that were grown in the U.S. and processed in China, the talks also are expected to cover the eventual U.S. import of poultry raised in China.

That’s right: A brood of chickens could be raised in Nebraska, shipped off to a facility in China to be “processed,” then shipped back to the U.S. for market.

In other words, the piece of chicken on your plate may have received quite a few passport stamps before arriving at your grocery store.

And if that goes well, then we could skip the first part and allow Chinese farmers to raise and process their own chickens and ship them to the U.S. – effectively cutting out the role of the American farmer.

The ironic timing of these talks is not lost on us here at AAM. No, we’re astute consumers of media, and we read Dominique Patton’s article in the New York Times last week. In the article, Patton discusses the concerns people in China have over the safety of their food.

Reports Patton:

Chinese consumers are responding to a powerful new marketing tactic that plays to a widespread fear of food contamination: the promise of safe groceries sold online.

With pledges to supply produce directly from the farm, vendors have found that food is becoming one of the fastest-growing segments of Internet retailing. They are benefiting from scares about products like cadmium-tainted rice and recycled cooking oil.

So, while Chinese consumers are finding innovative ways to avoid the food being processed in their own country’s facilities, the USDA is finding ways to allow China to process more food for American markets.

What do you think, readers? Would you eat chicken either processed or raised AND processed in China?

Photo by flickr user April Younglove, used following Creative Commons guidelines.