Weekly Overview: Bird Flu Impacts Global Poultry Sector

GLOBAL - The spread of avian influenza in recent months has affected the bottom line of one leading poultry company and, according to a new report, it is set to impact global trade streams. New outbreaks have been reported in the last week in the US, South Korea, India, Viet Nam and Taiwan, with low-pathogenic outbreaks in California and the Netherlands.
calendar icon 19 March 2015
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In its latest report on the global poultry industry, Rabobank analysts say that the margin outlook generally remains upbeat. The main drivers they identify are high beef prices, lower feed costs and relatively strong demand in most regions.

However, they sound a note of caution: global trade is under pressure from the spread of avian influenza (AI) in Asia, Europe and North America.

Rabobank Animal Protein Analyst, Nan-Dirk Mulder, said: “Avian flu is further spreading across the globe and could affect global trade streams, especially as the virus has moved further in Europe to Hungary, and in the US to central states like Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas.

“Joint global approaches, optimal biosecurity, and strong monitoring and compensation systems are necessary to stop the spread of the disease,” he added.

In an assessment of the situation in the United States, CME Group analyst reports that although highly pathogenic AI has been identified in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Kansas, any action taken by trading partners regarding Kansas will not have a major impact on poultry exports or supplies.

Boparan Holdings Limited, the parent company of UK chicken processing firm, 2 Sisters Food Group, has reported in its latest results that AI in Europe contributed to making a challenging trading period over the last quarter even more difficult.

Over the last week, new AI outbreaks of the highly pathogenic type have occurred in poultry in the United States (Arkansas and Kansas), South Korea, India, Viet Nam and Taiwan. The low-pathogenic form has been reported in commercial turkeys in California and free-range layers in the Netherlands.

Also in the news this week, a recently released video from an animal welfare organisation allegedly shows welfare issues at a broiler processing company in the US. An independent expert panel commenting on the video explained the procedures shown and, while observing that some processes could be improved, they found no evidence for the video claims of "horrific animal abuse".

The European Commission has been called on to phase out as soon as possible killing methods that cause unnecessary suffering to animals, such as electrical water-bath stunners for poultry.

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