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Weekly poultry outlook: bird flu cases prompt economists to revise consumption estimates

Ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza are gravely impacting poultry flocks across Europe and Asia, spurring economists to revise their chicken meat consumption estimates for 2021.

15 January 2021, at 10:33am

Asian bird flu outbreak the worst since the early 2000s

Since November, more than 20 million chickens have been destroyed in South Korea and Japan due to a devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu.

The virus reached India last week, and 10 states have already reported cases. India is the world’s sixth largest poultry producer. The worst bird flu outbreak for Asia since the early 2000s coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic that at least initially clipped demand for poultry amid now debunked talk about that virus being transmitted on food.

Some consumers in bird-flu affected regions are again avoiding poultry amid false fears it could be transmitted via poultry consumption.

Person holding a syringe full of liquid in front of a chicken
Researchers believe that this is the worst bird flu outbreak in Asia since the early 2000s

USDA: Chicken consumption is expected to trend lower in 2021

Global chicken meat production for 2021 is revised 1 percent lower to 101.8 million tonnes driven by sharp declines in the EU and China. The EU is battling widespread Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks across several Member States, weaker domestic demand, and higher grain prices.

China chicken meat demand continues to grow but at a slower rate as the swine herd recovers and pork production rebounds. Global chicken meat exports for 2021 are down nearly 1 percent to 12.1 million tons as lower EU, Thailand, and Brazil exports are offset by gains in the United States. The outlook for China imports remains unchanged.

Read Jim Wyckoff's updates on the global pork industry on The Pig Site, and see his analysis of trends in the beef and dairy markets on The Cattle Site.