March 6, 2006


Brazil's February beef, chicken exports down



Compared with the previous month, Brazil's beef and chicken exports dropped in February, the government reported Thursday (Mar 2). However, livestock analysts say that has more to do with a short work month than the trade impacts of animal diseases.


"February really ends on the 24th because that's when Carnival starts and the country shuts down. I doubt you'll see exports drop off in March and April," said Antenor Nogueira, president of the National Confederation of Agriculture, a Brazilian farm lobby.


Brazil's markets were closed the last two business days of February because of the Carnival.


Brazil exported roughly 71,200 tonnes of fresh beef last month, compared with 80,900 tonnes in January. Nevertheless, the February 2006 export totals surpass the 62,600 tonnes sold internationally in February 2005, the Foreign Trade Ministry said Thursday.


Brazilian chicken exports, however, are a slightly different story, falling in comparison to January 2006 and February 2005. This February, Brazil sold 190,300 tonnes of fresh chicken meat to international markets, down from 206,600 tonnes in January and 210,700 in February 2005.


Brazil Beef Exporters Association's director, Antonneio Jorge Camardelli, said he had not yet seen the government trade figures, but was not convinced that beef bans by 56 nations because of FMD is the cause of the slide.


"These results, for both chicken and beef, are not as bad as they look," said Jose Vicente Ferraz, director of agriculture market research firm Instituto FNP.


Ferraz said chicken exports will eventually be affected by bird flu scares. If March and April exports start to dip in comparison to the start of the year, then bird flu's impact on consumption would be the clear culprit for the slide. Ferraz said that this month Japan has increased its chicken storage from 70 days to 90 days, meaning that as national stocks increase in Brazil's main chicken markets, demand for Brazilian chicken will soften fast.


Daily price averages paid for Brazilian chicken fell to US$1,180.30 per tonne in February, compared with US$1,279.20 per tonne in January.


Brazil is the world's top beef and chicken exporter by volume.


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