January 30, 2007
Brazil expects record chicken exports this year despite threat of bird flu
Brazilian chicken exporters would export record volumes of chickens to world markets in 2007 despite the looming threat of bird flu which has already hit several Asian countries.
The worst-case scenario at this point is if a bird flu case is discovered in Brazil.
On the consumer front, bird flu is not a major problem as perspectives have changed, said Ricardo Goncalves, executive director of the Brazilian Chicken Exporters Association, or ABEF.
The bird flu impact is going to be less and people know this is not going to disappear and they've learned to live with it, Gonclaves said. Since consumers have the information they need about the disease now, the fear factor has subsided, he added.
Last year, ABEF members, which include exporters like Sadia and Perdigao, expected exports to decline by 7 percent because of bird flu outbreaks in the Middle East, Africa and Europe in early 2006.
However, the decline was not as much as had been imagined. Last year, Brazil shipped 2.7 million tonnes of chicken meat to world markets compared to 2.84 million tonnes in 2005.
Goncalves said 2007 would be slightly better than 2005, and currently is forecast to reach 2.85 million tonnes, a 5-percent on-year increase.
The new cases in Asia would not affect exports as there is no evidence to suggest that people are consuming less chicken because of bird flu fears, he said
In mid-December, Goncalves said industry leaders suspected the worst was over when it comes to bird flu impacts on the chicken market. But 2007 started off with new cases in Japan, Hungary and Indonesia. Last year, Brazilian chicken exporters saw declines in export revenues and volumes because consumers stopped buying chicken.