The Van Trump Report

Bird Flu Has Reached Brazil, the World’s Top Chicken Supplier

Brazil’s luck in avoiding the spread of bird flu in South America seems to have run out. The country has confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild birds, marking the first-ever occurrence in the country. As the world’s leading chicken exporter, global supplies could be seriously impacted if the disease spreads to Brazil’s commercial poultry flocks.

Since late 2020 when the current global bird flu outbreak began, importers have increasingly turned to Brazil to fill supply gaps. Up until now, Brazil was the only one of the five largest global poultry producers that had not registered a case of HPAI. According to data compiled by the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA), March chicken meat sales grew +23% in March versus the same time last year. And 2022 was a record year, in spite of a double-digit decline in shipments to China.

Brazil’s 2023 chicken exports are forecast by the USDA at 4.75 million metric tons (MMT), nearly a +7% increase over 2022’s record 4.45 MMT. That compares to US projected 2023 chicken exports of 3.35 MMT and 3.32 MMT in 2022. The combined exports of both countries account for nearly 60% of total global exports. Brazil alone is forecast to fulfill almost 35% of global export demand in 2023.

Global chicken production is expected to increase by about +1.4 MMT in 2023. However, it’s the availability of supply that is the main problem. That’s because when a country reports HPAI in a commercial flock, it usually results in varying degrees of import bans by other countries.

Brazil has been completely surrounded by bird flu since February, when Argentina became the last of the country’s neighbors to register a case. So Brazil has been on alert for many months now and even initiated a “war operation” and already started a prevention cabinet. The ag ministry says culling training and drills have also been taking place in the industry.  

Most of Brazil’s chicken production occurs in the southern states of Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul, which represent almost 61% of total output. All three have intensified prevention and enforcement measures. Other states have also been tightening biosecurity plans.      

The current bird flu outbreak began in the fall of 2020 in Europe and spread from there to Asia and North America and then to South and Central America. The primary carrier has been wild birds which have now transported it along migratory flyways to every continent on the planet. Between October 2021 and December 2022, its estimated that over 140 million poultry birds worldwide were lost to the virus, including at least 58 million in the US.

In April, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) began testing several candidate vaccines for possible use in poultry. The agency has estimated that if a product were needed for use in commercial poultry, it could be ready within 18 to 24 months.(Sources: USDA, Rabobank, Poultry Word, CIDRAP)

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