The Nearly $300 Million Business of Exporting Chicken Feet to China

Chicken feet exports to China, which at one point brought in $278 million for the United States, has become a rather facetious-sounding sparring ground for very serious trade conflicts between the two countries. Yes, chicken feet in China -- a poultry appendage that has seemingly no value here in the U.S. but is in demand in China -- are the reason the United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is currently pleading for World Trade Organization intervention between the world's two largest economies. From personal experience, you can find those poultry extremities in dim sum restaurants where they're deep-fried to the color of burnt caramel and drenched in a sweet-spicy-salty sauce. You'll also find lots of people making faces when presented with a plateful of those claws. Mostly unwanted in the U.S., the export of our excess chicken feet (377,805 metric tons) to China is a business which garnered nearly $278 million in 2009. But since then, it's been a different story.

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