Absence of bird flu lifts Brazil's chicken exports

Brazilian chicken meat producers have been able to increase exports thanks to strict controls to prevent bird flu as well as a depreciation of the local currency, a country expert told Latin Business Daily by telephone from Brasilia Friday.

“The South American continent was the only one free of Avian Influenza. Other areas slowed their offers,” Victor Miguel Ayres, adviser of the technical superintendency of the Confederation of Poultry and Livestock, said. 

The Brazilian real has also heavily depreciated, making all Brazilian exports more competitive.

Brazil now accounts for 30 percent of the world's exports and is the world´s biggest shipper of chicken meat, followed closely by the United States. The U.S. has seen exports drop in recent years due to the bird flu.

The U.S. and Brazil together account for 58 percent of the world´s chicken meat exports, down from about 76 percent a few years ago before the disease spread  to North America.

The chicken meat market is unique as it allows producers to adjust to demand very quickly because a chicken has a 41-day life cycle from birth to weighing 6 pounds, Ayres said.

About 28 percent of the chicken meat produced in Brazil is used for exports, and most of the country´s production comes from Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Sao Paulo is also another key region for production, Ayres said.

Brazil set an export record in July when it shipped 409,800 metric tons of chicken, worth $685 million. That was 2.7 percent more than in July 2014.

The country works hard to prevent the penetration of the Avian flu or other diseases in Brazilian chicken farms.
Farms keep separate compartments and there is intense work to trace the movement of wild birds that migrate from North America annually, Ayres said. There is no chance for contact between farmed and wild birds, he added.

Independent farmers and industry operators keep a model of integration where farmers receive support and in turn have to provide certain volumes with an agreed quality. There are an estimated 160,000 producers in the country.

The country exports about 3.5 million tons of chicken meat annually, and those exports are expanding at a rate between 2 to 3.5 percent ever year, Ayres said. 

Besides Brazil and the United States, other leading exporters are the European Union (9 percent of the world exports), Thailand (4 percent) and China (4 percent). Brazil has been among the leading countries for a decade.

Producers also are preparing for increased chicken demand within Brazil as beef prices have increased.

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