BRAZIL – As the world’s leading poultry exporter, Brazil is gearing up for an impressive showing in 2023, with a robust 5.6% growth in poultry exports reported up to November of the previous year.

The nation’s poultry exports, totaling over 632,000 metric tonnes from January to November, witnessed a substantial year-on-year increase of 28%.

China emerged as the primary destination for Brazilian chicken in 2023, closely followed by South Africa, which experienced the second-largest surge in poultry imports from Brazil.

Brazilian poultry sales, generating a staggering US$9 billion by November 2023 from 4.68 million tonnes, are on track to exceed 5 million tonnes by the year-end.

However, concerns have arisen regarding the potential impact of bird flu on Brazil’s commercial poultry industry and its implications, particularly for South African imports.

South Africa, heavily reliant on Brazil for 90% of its poultry imports, faced critical considerations amid the threat of avian influenza.

The South African Poultry Association (SAPA)  highlighted three potential courses of action in the event of a bird flu outbreak in Brazil: a complete ban on all poultry imports, a targeted ban on affected areas, or allowing imports under specific conditions, such as pre or post-entry heat treatment.

SAPA CEO Izaak Breitenbach emphasized the severity of the situation, stating that all Brazilian poultry imports would be banned if any commercial flock is affected by bird flu until a new policy is approved.

“One major challenge lies in the import of mechanically deboned meat (MDM), constituting 60% of Brazil’s poultry exports to South Africa,” he said.

Importers are advocating for the continuity of this trade in the event of a bird flu outbreak, proposing heat treatment on arrival, a suggestion rejected by the South African Department of Agriculture.”

Compartmentalization, the division of Brazil into different poultry regions, is another proposed solution, allowing disease-free compartments to continue exports.

However, this measure is pending approval.

Despite these concerns, Brazil achieved a record 5.138 million metric tons of chicken product shipments in 2023, attaining US$9.79 billion in export revenues.

Brazil’s status as free of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza distinguishes it from other major poultry-producing countries and helps it avoid trade bans under World Organisation for Animal Health guidelines.

While celebrating the positive results, ABPA President Ricardo Santin acknowledged challenges and variations in markets and production costs.

South Africa remains vigilant, closely monitoring developments in Brazil’s poultry industry and assessing potential measures in response to any future developments, ensuring the nation’s poultry market remains resilient.

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