US - Although no detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been recorded in the US for more than seven weeks, the toll the virus has taken on the US poultry and egg industry this year is staggering.
The impact of lost exports alone reached nearly $390 million during the first half of 2015, according to a report from the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.
The lost exports were the result of a flurry of avian flu-related trade restrictions imposed on imports of US poultry and egg products into other countries.
In precise terms, the combined value of US poultry and egg exports for the first half fell by 14 per cent from the same period last year to $2.4054 billion, a decline in value of $386.3 million, according to trade data compiled by the Foreign Agricultural Service.
This sharp drop in export value, one of the largest ever for a January through June span, is a graphic example of the economic effect this year’s multi-state outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza has had on the industry.
The good news is that some countries have begun lifting their import restrictions on poultry products originating in certain states, now that more than 90 days have passed since affected farms were cleaned and disinfected, as is recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Countries beginning to lift restrictions
Hong Kong, in fact, just this week announced that it has lifted restrictions on 10 previously banned counties in the states of Arkansas, Washington, Oregon and California.
Some US trading partners have been slow to remove restrictions, however, including Mexico, the industry’s largest export market. Japan and Singapore have also recently removed restrictions.
While the HPAI virus is on somewhat of a hiatus during the warmer months of summer, the US industry is bracing for its possible return this fall, as migratory birds – thought to be the primary vectors of the virus – head south for the winter.
State and federal officials worry that wild birds will carry the virus into the Atlantic flyway that cuts through the heart of the main poultry-producing areas of the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
Exporters, meanwhile, hope for the best after a disheartening first half of the year. Poultry meat exports for January through June plummeted by 9 per cent to 1.84 million metric tons, while value fell by 15 per cent to $2.241 billion. The impact goes beyond exports, as more product on the domestic market means lower prices that add to the losses.
Exports of poultry meat for the month of June were down 14 per cent to 305,504 tons, while value dipped by 25 per cent to $348.8 million, compared to the same month a year earlier.
Monthly broiler exports (excluding chicken paws) for June fell by 9 per cent to 255,721 tons, and value slid by 23 per cent to $262.5 million.
For the first half of the year, broiler exports dipped by 9 per cent to 1.52 million tons as value fell by 16 per cent to $1.68 billion. Korea’s blanket ban on all U.S. product earlier this year because of HPAI was a significant contributor to the decline.
Export volumes to key markets for January through June were mixed: Mexico, down 6 per cent to 330,963 tons; Taiwan, up 52 per cent to 106,274 tons; Canada, up 22 per cent to 87,067 tons; Hong Kong, up 49 per cent to 79,519 tons; Cuba, 71,076 tons, up 1 per cent; Angola, 67,420 tons, down 29 per cent; Iraq (including transshipments via Turkey), 55,976 tons, down 37 per cent; Guatemala, 48,803 tons, down 24 per cent; Georgia, 46,402 tons, up 4 per cent; and Vietnam, 45,298 tons, up 78 per cent.
June paw exports fell by 35.3 per cent to 16,657 tons, while value was off by 44.4 per cent to $20.9 million. Shipments to Hong Kong decreased by 22 per cent to 15,442 tons.
Cumulative exports of paws for the first half declined by 21.6 per cent to 110,315 tons as value dropped 25.5 per cent to $148.6 million.
June was not a good month for U.S. turkey exports, which fell by 40 per cent to 18,945 tons and value dropped by 29 per cent to $47.1 million, thanks largely to decreased shipments to Mexico (down 45 per cent).
Cumulative first-half turkey exports decreased by 21 per cent to 106,786 tons, while value fell by 15 per cent to $285.7 million.
The top five markets in the first half of Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Benin, and Japan accounted for 77 per cent of total first-half turkey export volume, with Mexico alone accounting for 63 per cent.
First-half turkey exports to Mexico were 79,597 tons, down 22 per cent; Canada, 5,131 tons, up 2 per cent; Hong Kong, 4,647 tons, up 64 per cent; Benin, 3,830 tons, down 0.03 per cent; and Japan, 2,973 tons, down 25 per cent.
June table egg export volume also took a hit, falling by 24 per cent for the month to 9.97 million dozen. The export value of eggs actually increased slightly to $14.6 million, however, because of higher market prices brought about by HPAI-induced domestic shortages.
Thanks in part to a strong first quarter, cumulative January-June table egg exports rose by 5 per cent to 83.2 million dozen and value jumped by 16 per cent to $101.14 million.
The top five markets of Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Bahamas, and Netherlands Antilles accounted for 95 per cent of total exports for the period, and Mexico alone accounted for 40 per cent.
Processed egg products
For egg products, June export value plummeted by 58 per cent to $5.3 million. Export sales to Japan were $1.9 million, down 37 per cent year over year, while export value to Mexico was $0.34 million, down 91 per cent.
The cumulative first-half export value of egg products fell by 14 per cent to $62.8 million. Export value to Japan decreased by 15 per cent to $20.5 million, while exports to Mexico dipped by 5 per cent to $17.7 million.
Exports to the EU grew by 14 per cent to $5.95 million, exports to Canada and Hong Kong decreased by 21 and 19 per cent to $7.3 million and $1.7 million, respectively. Export sales to these top five markets totalled $53.11 million, accounting for 84.5 per cent of total exports of US egg products.
Total egg exports
Total egg exports (table eggs plus egg products in shell egg equivalent units) for the first half were 145.13 million dozen, down 9 per cent from the same period a year earlier, with an export value of $164 million, up 2 per cent.
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