RICHMOND -- Foreign demand for deep-fried chicken feet offers a market opportunity to Virginia poultry farmers, according to Gov. Gerald Baliles.

"Too often in the past, we have defined the world in terms of ourselves, and not realized that markets exist for unlikely products," Baliles told members of the Virginia State Fair Board at its annual luncheon.

"But the fact is, Virginia has uncovered a huge market for chicken feet," said Baliles. "We discovered an interest in chicken feet in Hong Kong, but also knew that none of our poultry processing companies was exporting the product."

Rockingham Poultry Markets Cooperative Inc. of Broadway responded to the need by making a minor charge in its production line, and is now exporting the chicken feet to Hong Kong, according to officials.

Deep-fried chicken feet are considered a delicacy by some Japanese and Chinese, a spokeswoman for the governor said.

Baliles, who is on a trade mission to Japan, Taiwan and Korea, said Virginia has a lot more to offer than chicken feet, and pointed to the State Fair as a showcase for Virginia's expanding marketplace.

Baliles and members of the Department of Economic Development plan to meet with Taiwanese and Hong Kong shippers and manufacturer