Growing Hunger for Brazilian Chicken as Bird Flu Spreads
The bird flu outbreak sweeping across Asia and Europe means you may soon be eating more Brazilian chicken.
The world’s top exporter has been untouched by the highly contagious virus that led to widespread culling of birds — more than 30 million in South Korea alone. After some key importing nations banned poultry from infected countries, Brazil is expected to see further demand for its products.
The avian influenza outbreak is also good news for other virus-free nations that can fill the supply gap, such as the U.S., which is the second-biggest exporter and mostly evaded contamination since cases escalated in October. Because migrating wild birds carry the disease, there’s a risk that it will keep spreading, Societe Generale SA said in a report earlier this month.
“The global situation has worsened since mid-December,” said Nan-Dirk Mulder, an analyst at Rabobank International in Utrecht, Netherlands. “Countries like Brazil and the U.S. will indeed capture market share from European Union in international markets.”
Even without the current crisis, Brazil’s chicken exports will climb as much as 5 percent to 4.6 million metric tons this year, according to the Brazil Animal Protein Association, or ABPA. The country has never been hit by bird flu and overtook the U.S. as the top poultry shipper a decade ago.
Demand may rise from nations that banned imports or culled birds to contain the virus, such as China and parts of the EU, which are among Brazil’s key customers. European nations killed more than 1.5 million poultry since Oct. 19 and the figure may more than double, the World Organisation for Animal Health, or OIE, said this month.
In an effort to contain the disease, France last week widened its order to cull birds in the southwest, where about two-thirds of the country’s foie gras is produced.
About half the cases of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain found across Europe since October were in poultry and the rest in wild birds, the OIE said. Poultry exports from EU, the largest exporter after Brazil and the U.S., totaled 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in the first nine months of 2016, Rabobank said.
Recent outbreaks haven’t been as bad as in previous years. About 16.8 million birds were culled globally because of highly-pathogenic strains in 2016, almost half the amount a year earlier, the OIE
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