Brazil’s Poultry Industry Optimistic about Export Continuity Despite Bird Flu

The risk of infection on poultry farms, which are mostly concentrated in southern Brazil, increased when HPAI (highly pathological avian influenza) was discovered in wild birds in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in the beginning of June.

However, it is still unlikely that Brazil will impose a statewide export embargo should the virus that causes HPAI strike commercial flocks due to revised trade agreements with the majority of the world’s largest suppliers of chicken’s trading partners, including China.

As stated by Ricardo Santin, from the group that advocates for companies like JBS and BRF, any export limits should be kept to a narrower geographic area under the agreements with trading partners. However, exporters may experience some difficulties due to the specifics of a bilateral sanitary protocol signed in 2004 with China, which was Brazil’s biggest chicken customer in 2017. The protocol, which the agricultural ministry stated is still in effect, stipulates that Beijing must be informed right away of any epidemic diseases and imposes temporary national and local prohibitions depending on the ailment that poses a threat to poultry’s health. Additionally, it mandates that meat exported from farms must be free of restrictions relating to avian disease for a period of 12 months.

In the words of Santin, Brazil started renegotiating sanitary standards with roughly 70% of overseas markets in 2021.

He claimed that, in theory, the majority of Brazil’s clients agree that, in accordance with WOAH regulations, “a containment zone” may be constructed for trade purposes. However, he warned that certain purchasers, including Japan, Mexico, and South Africa, who haven’t changed their contracts with Brazil, could not be satisfied by those methods.

Despite HPAI outbreaks, the U.S., which competes with Brazil in the chicken export industry, kept shipping goods.

As avian flu decimated flocks, U.S. production of eggs and turkeys fell by 6% and 2%, respectively, in 2022. Even so, the total volume and value of chicken meat exports increased by 3% and 14%, respectively, as amended trade agreements reduced trade barriers in comparison to the previous record-breaking U.S. bird flu outbreak in 2015.

References:

Mano, Ana. 2023. Reuters: Brazil poultry lobby sees little risk of nationwide export ban over bird flu.  Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/brazil-poultry-lobby-sees-little-risk-nationwide-export-ban-over-bird-flu-2023-06-03/

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