AI outbreaks to pressure global poultry markets

by Erica Shaffer
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Broiler chickens in barn
The US broiler industry has maintained strong margins on consumer demand for poultry.

UTRECHT, The Netherlands – H5 and H7 strains of avian influenza have gained a foothold on the world stage with serious implications for global markets for poultry.

Data compiled by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) show more than 7,400 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (subtype H5) occurred from the end of 2003 to May 28, 2015 in 55 countries. In 2015, OIE recorded outbreaks of H5N1, H5N2, H5N3, H5N6 and H5N8 in 22 countries. Mexico had an outbreak of H5N7, an AI strain that — along with H5N1 — has killed hundreds of people across the world.

Global outbreaks of avian influenza have pressured poultry prices and trade in international markets, analysts at Rabobank said in the firm’s Poultry Quarterly Q2 report. Additionally, several trade bans on breeding stock may drive long-term headwinds.

“Poultry industry fundamentals are facing meaningful headwinds with stronger than expected feed prices due to a strong US dollar, increased competition from falling pork prices and restrictions on trade,” Rabobank animal protein analyst Nan-Dirk Mulder said. “Prices for whole chicken, leg quarters and chicken feet are declining further, while breast meat prices remain relatively strong.”

 
On a regional basis, robust demand for poultry has supported strong margins in the United States, Rabobank reported. The broiler industry has largely avoided the worst of the outbreak, while turkeys and layer hens have been hardest-hit by the virus.

Meanwhile, the European Union could see some margin recovery as weak euro and possible lifting of AI-related trade restrictions combine to improve the EU’s trade position, according to the report.
For Brazil, analysts report the country will maintain a competitive position in global poultry trade supported by a weak real and trade bans on Brazil’s competitors.

China is forecast to have fewer cases of avian influenza, but the country will continue to feel the impact of AI outbreaks on its poultry industry. Rabobank reported margins were at their lowest level in five years.

Headwinds for Thailand include an oversupply of poultry despite strong exports, while the outlook for South Africa is less-clear due to the likely return of poultry exports from the EU.

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