Chicken Industry

Supply Management

The Alberta chicken industry operates under supply management, which provides Albertans with a consistent supply of locally produced, affordable, high quality chicken products. Supply management has been serving Canadian consumers and chicken farmers since the early 1970s.

Benefits of Supply Management

  • Consumers have access to locally produced chicken products raised on our family farms  in their local  grocery stores and restaurants
  • Ensures a sustainable, consistent local food supply for consumers
  • Governments do not pay subsidies to support the income of our farmers
  • Ensures a stable, fair price for consumers and producers.  Supply Management does not set the price at retail - retailers set the price consumers pay
  • Innovation - Our producers are committed to uphold mandatory food safety and animal care standards

How it Works

Quota is granted by the Board to a farmer to engage in the production and marketing of the chicken. Quota provides them with the right to produce. Quota can be obtained by either purchasing or leasing-in from a certified chicken farmer in Alberta.

Production Planning

Farmers and industry stakeholders plan production to supply quality food that reflects consumer demand. This provides predictability and stability so that industry stakeholders can invest with confidence.

Producer Pricing

To remain competitive with other provinces, the live price of chicken is based off of the Ontario live price.   While farmers set the farm gate price, they do not set wholesale or retail prices.  Retailers set the prices paid by consumers based on what the market can bare.

Import Controls

Controlling imports of chicken allows Canadian farmers to meet the domestic demand for chicken. Predictability of imports, through effective tariff rate quotas, help to stabilize the supply of chicken in the market.  Canada is still the 16th largest importer of chicken globally.

More about Marketing, Quota & Allocation

On average, a 40 g chick will grow into a 2.2 kg bird in 38 days. Feed conversion is approximately 1.80–2.00 kg feed/kg meat.
Most broilers are marketed at approximately 35-39 days, leaving the remainder of the 8-week cycle for clean-up, repairs and preparation for placement of the next flock. Revenue is generated over 6.5 cycles per year.


1 quota unit = approximately 20 kg chicken / year Formula: Kg’s = # units x 0.50 x # weeks in cycle (8)* x 6.5 cycles per year *Varies depending upon the type of bird grown. 8 weeks is the average for broilers.

Quota Units are allocated to existing producers and new producers in the province. Quota Units can be purchased or leased from one licensed producer to another upon approval by the Board. The maximum amount of quota an individual producer is permitted to own is 5% of the total provincial quota. A farm with more than one person involved in the operation of the particular farm, such as a partnership, is permitted 10% of the provincial quota. In the case where financial institutions have filed a Financial Interest or an Appointment of Attorney with the Board office, we are obligated to notify those financial institutions of the Producers' request to sell quota (reallocate quota units).

For more information, please refer to our Operations Policy Manual.


Chicken Farmers of Canada is the national agency that oversees the orderly marketing of chicken in Canada. Farmers, processors, further processors and members of the restaurant industry from across the country meet every eight weeks to determine anticipated market requirements and set production levels accordingly.

Each province in Canada obtains a share of the national allocation, and the provincial marketing boards in turn allocate production to individual producers. The quota utilization percentage changes from cycle to cycle in order to respond to market demand for chicken meat.
For example, at a 100% quota utilization, a producer is able to market 4.00 kg for every 1 unit of quota.

Formula: Kg's = [1 (quota unit) x .50 (conversion factor) x 8 (week cycle) X 100% (percentage of utilization)]

Market Development

The Market Development Program maintains a balance of white and dark meat on the domestic markets. Since their demand is often not equal, the program ensures an adequate supply of white meat is supplied to meet domestic demand, and excess dark meat is exported. Processors who develop export markets extend an offer to producers to grow chicken for the export market. Market Development production is applied for by processors, and cannot exceed 14% of the provincial allocation. Nationally, Market Development accounts for roughly 6% of production and in Alberta, Market Development accounts for approximately 3.5-4% of total production annually.

Economic Contribution


Chicken Prices - Farmers Share

Retailers and restaurants set the prices paid by consumers.

Farmers actually receive only a small percentage of the consumer dollar that is spent on food. In most cases, the farmer’s share is less than the taxes on the meal itself, and much less than the tip or gratuity given to the person that spends 1 hour serving you in the restaurant.

Learn About a Chicken Farmer's Share of a Restaurant Meal

Farmers Don’t Set Retail Prices

At the retail level, chicken is sold at a variety of price levels and consumers have access to a wide variety of cuts and types of product that were developed in response to consumer demand. These products are sold at whatever price that consumers will pay – all without any influence from the farmer.

Retail pricing is influenced by many factors, only one of which is the farmer’s share. Others include retailer competition, brand positioning, cost of competing meats, store specials – all of which usually cause price fluctuations that are greater than the share the farmer receives. Prices can vary from week to week, from region to region, from store to store, and from product to product. This demonstrates that the farmer’s share is not the driver of retail pricing.

No Subsidies

And the fact is, our farmers only get paid for the chicken they sell and the pricing is transparent. There are no hidden subsidies. Only chicken consumers pay for chicken. This is not the case for other commodities which have received substantial financial support from federal and provincial governments. Through their taxes, Canadians pay for beef and pork whether they consume it or not. They even pay for consumers in other countries to eat our beef and pork that is sold around the globe.

The farmer’s share is a small percentage of the final sale price of chicken sold in Canada, but is no less important because it sustains our family farms and ensures that families like yours can continue to buy our fresh, safe and delicious chicken for generations to come.

Canadian Chicken – The Stable Choice for Consumers

2016 has just begun and there is one particular item troubling the minds of Canadians: the sharp rise in the price of food.

Best Practices

The care and welfare of poultry is in the best interest of the animals and of the industry as a whole.

The chicken industry has established recommended best practices for bird care that span the supply chain from the farmer to the food processor.  The chicken industry has also proactively implemented mandatory Animal Care and On-Farm Food Safety Programs for farmers.  All chicken farms must be certified by an independent auditor annually to maintain their license to produce chicken.   The farmer, the catcher, the transporter and the processor all have responsibilities in ensuring proper care of the animals.

For more details:

Raising Chickens in Alberta
Biosecurity Standards
Recommended Code of Practice for Care
Recommended Best Practices for Bird Care
Catching & Transportation Procedures Manual
A Guide for Preparation, Loading & Transporting Poultry
Broiler Chick Quality Manual
Code of Practice

Policy Manuals & Regulations


Note: The Alberta Chicken Producers' Policy Manuals are living documents and may be off-line occasionally during updating.

Applications, Reports and Forms

About Our Applications, Reports, Forms and Declarations

Alberta Chicken Producers' forms are available for you in PDF format Please print a PDF form, complete in full  and email or fax back to the office. If you wish to obtain clarification regarding the forms, or wish to obtain a copy by email or fax, please contact the Alberta Chicken Producers office.

Standard Operating Procedures - Version 5.0

These Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are to be updated whenever a change is made and at minimum on an annual basis. The "signature page" is to be signed and dated whenever the SOPs are reviewed or when a change is made.

Statutory Declarations

Research & Innovation

Committed to research and innovation

Canadian Poultry Research Council

The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) is an industry-led organization with a mandate to support poultry research in Canada. The Chicken Farmer’s of Canada, Alberta Chicken Producer’s national counterpart, is a member of the CPRC.

Poultry Research Centre

The Poultry Research Centre is a unique partnership between the University of Alberta, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and the poultry industry. Alberta Chicken Producer’s is a member of the Poultry Research Centre’s Advisory Board.  


There’s been talk recently about opening the market to more imports, displacing the local and reliable foods Canadians trust, and placing the livelihoods of the farm families who grow them at risk.

Trade rules are critical to the Canadian chicken industry in order to maintain the three pillars of supply management: producer pricing, production discipline, and import controls. The import controls pillar continues to be challenged from several different directions: the Duties Relief Program, spent fowl imports and of specially defined mixtures.

What are these you ask? Let’s take a look!

Duties Relief Program


What is it?

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Duties Relief Program relieves the payment of duties, at the time of importation, on imported goods that will eventually be exported either in the same condition or after being used in the processing of other goods.

Why is this important to the chicken industry?

The program was not designed for agriculture goods and does not provide adequate safeguards to address diversion into the domestic market when chicken is imported into Canada for further processing and subsequent re-export.

What can be done?

Chicken Farmers of Canada has made recommendations to the federal government requesting that all chicken products be administered under Global Affairs Canada’s Import to Re-Export Program, which was explicitly designed for perishable agricultural goods.

Economic Losses as a Result

Farm Cash Receipts: $44.5million

Jobs: 1,423 jobs lost

GDP: $107.1 million

Taxes: $35.7 million

Spent Fowl


What is it?

Spent fowl are old laying hens. While broiler chickens are raised for meat consumption, spent fowl hens lay eggs, and when their productivity declines, they are processed for their meat.

Why is this important to the chicken industry?

Chicken coming into Canada is subject to import controls, however spent fowl is not. Data is showing that chicken meat is being imported into Canada and fraudulently declared as spent fowl in order to bypass import controls.

What can be done?

A mandatory certification process for spent fowl would put an end to this type of fraudulent import. We have successfully developed a DNA test that can distinguish between broiler and spent fowl meat. This test should be used to verify that there are no imports of broiler meat being smuggled into Canada as spent fowl in order to circumvent import controls.

Economic Losses as a Result

Farm Cash Receipts: $86.7 million

Jobs: 2,771 jobs lost

GDP: $208.5 million

Taxes: $69.6 million

Specially Defined Mixtures


What is it?

Chicken combined with 13% of other ingredients is labelled a “specially defined mixture” (SDM) and is not considered chicken for import control purposes. In other words, products containing up to 87% chicken meat are generally not subject to import controls.

Why is this important to the chicken industry?

By adding sauce to a box of chicken wings or by stuffing uncooked chicken breast, many companies are deliberately creating products whose sole purpose is to evade import controls.

What can be done?

The federal government needs to reinstate, into the Canadian Customs Tariff, the sauce and cooking requirements it has already negotiated in Canada’s World Trade Organization commitments.

Economic Losses as a Result

Farm Cash receipts: $8.2 million

Jobs: 262 jobs lost

GDP: $19.7 million

Taxes: $6.6 million

We support Canada’s balanced trade position that allows market access gains for Canadian exporters while preserving the integrity of Canada’s pillars of supply management. These challenges to the import controls pillar not only affect the quality of chicken you purchase, but the jobs and economic revenue associated with the Canadian chicken industry.

For more information on issues facing our industry, check out these pages on our website:

The Impact of Imports
Issues Facing the Industry

What's Trade Got to Do With It?

An effective supply management system requires the ability to determine supply from all sources, domestic as well as international. In order to be sustainable, the supply management system relies on three pillars: import controls, production discipline, and producer pricing. Import controls are essential to maintaining the stability of supply in Canada – it ensures that Canadian market demand for chicken is primarily met by Canadian farmers.

The volume of chicken imported into Canada is controlled by Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs), which allow a calculated volume – or “quota” – of chicken to enter Canada with little or no tariff and higher tariffs for volumes exceeding said quotas. Combined with domestic production discipline – which discourages under- and over-production – TRQs ensure that there are no shortfalls or surges in the chicken supply, keeping prices stable and predictable. Finally, the system contains mechanisms that provide farmers with a fair and stable return for their product, keeping chicken farming sustainable.

What is a TRQ?

Tariff rate quotas set limits to the amount of chicken allowed into Canada with little or no tariff. As a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture – which came into effect on January 1, 1995 – Canada converted its existing agricultural quantitative import controls to a system of TRQs. TRQs were designed to offer some level of protection to countries’ sensitive agriculture sectors. Canada operates 21 of the world’s 1,425 TRQs, while the United States has 54 and the European Union has 87.

Under these TRQs, imports are subject to low “within access commitment” rates of duty up to a predetermined limit. Canada allows more than double its WTO commitment of 39,843,700 kilograms through its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) commitment, which is 7.5% of its previous year’s production. Unrestricted imports in excess of this limit are subject to significantly higher “over access commitment” rates of duty.

To demonstrate this system for chicken, the TRQ level for 2013 was set at 77.7 Mkg, representing 7.5% of the amount of chicken produced in Canada the year before. Imports up to 77.7 Mkg can then be imported with either a very small tariff or none whatsoever. Imports originating from the US pay 0% tariff because of the NAFTA and imports from other WTO members are subject to a tariff of 5.4% because of the WTO. All imports above the 77.7 Mkg limit are subject to a tariff of 238% (whole chicken) regardless of their origin, which would make imports significantly less appealing under normal circumstances.

TRQ Administration

The department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) plays a very important role in operating the TRQ system in Canada. They allocate the privilege to import at the “within access commitment” rates of duty to firms by issuing import allocations – or “import quotas” – as long as the firms meet the necessary terms and conditions. The Tariff Quota Advisory Committee (TQAC) was mandated to provide advice to the Minister of International Trade on the administration of the TRQ allocation system. The committee is comprised of CFC, CHEP and industry stakeholders (represented by CPEPC, FPPAC, CRFA, CARI, FPC, and NFDA) and government officials from several departments.

Chicken products not covered by the TRQ (Non-Import Control List products):

  • Chicken meat products containing 13% or more other products (HS Chapter 16); e.g., TV dinners, entrees (“specially defined mixtures”) – those are products with 87% or less chicken.
  • Food preparation containing less than 20% chicken (HS Chapters 19, 20 & 21); e.g., meat pies, soups, egg rolls, etc.

Allocation of the TRQ

Import quotas – in this 2013 example – are allocated to 566 Canadian companies that meet criteria in one of five pools: traditional, processors, foodservice, distributors, and non-import control list (non-ICL) products. The traditional pool receives its fixed quantity (20.9 Mkgs). The processor, distributor and food service pools are allocated 37.1% (processors: 62.6%, distributors: 26.8%, foodservice: 10.6%). The non-ICL pool receives its full requirements through the volume remaining in the regular allocation, special reserves, the market development policy and the supplementary imports to complete allocation.

Companies qualifying as both processors and distributors are allowed to apply under both pools but only receive one allocation; related or affiliated companies are only eligible for one allocation as well. Companies that use less than 90% of their allocation in any year have their allocation in the next year reduced to their actual level of use.

Supplementary Import Permits

The Minister of International Trade can authorize the importation of quantities of chicken and chicken products in excess of the import access quantity if they judge that it’s necessary to help meet Canadian demand. There are four categories of supplementary permits, and each category is subject to different conditions and procedures outlined below.

1. Supplementary imports for market shortages

Applications for supplementary imports to meet market shortages must meet the whole bird substitution policy, whereby market shortages are assessed in terms of the domestic industry’s supply and demand situation, based on production for the whole bird market. Applications for poultry parts are authorized only when there is a shortage of whole birds. Supplementary imports of parts when whole birds are available would interfere with the adjustment mechanisms in the market.

2. Supplementary imports to import chicken for the manufacturing of products exempt from the Import Control List (import to compete)

Manufacturers having an import allocation for processing of chicken products that are not on the Import Control List (ICL), referred to as “FTA quota”, are required to have exhausted all of their FTA quota allocation for the year before supplemental import permits may be issued under this provision.

Manufacturers importing chicken under this provision must substantiate that the chicken imported is used to produce products exempt from the ICL.

3. Supplementary imports to import chicken and chicken products for further processing and re-export (import to re-export)

All products manufactured from the imported chicken products must be exported within a period of three months from the date of issuance of the import permit.

The applicant must provide DFATD with copies of the import documents, including a CFIA inspection certificate for each import, document the use of imported chicken in the production of the exported product, and provide the export shipping documents. Failure to supply the documents may disqualify an applicant for additional import to re-export permits.

4. Supplementary imports to import chicken and chicken products for the purpose of test marketing

Import permits supplementary to the annual TRQ may be issued to facilitate the test marketing of new products that are unique or are produced with unique processes and require a substantial capital investment for their production. Companies that intend to do test marketing on a specific product must normally plan the activity within their annual TRQ allocations. Companies having a basic quota allocation must exhaust this allocation before supplementary imports may be issued under this provision. The supplementary import permits are only available to firms that market product directly to consumers. Companies are required to commence production in Canada as soon as feasible after the successful completion of the test marketing program.