Poultry ban hurting producers

Related tags European union International trade Us

The bird flu outbreak in Texas is beginning to hurt poultry
producers. Shares in a number of US chicken processors have already
fallen, prompted by announcements by the European Union, Mexico and
South Korea that they are determined to ban US poultry imports.

Shares of Tyson Foods, the country's largest meat company and top poultry producer, ended down 39 cents at $15.01 on Tuesday. Shares of Pilgrim's Pride, the number two poultry producer, fell $1.05 to $19.26. This was the second day of declines for both firms after the discovery of a severe strain of bird flu in a Texas chicken flock was revealed earlier this week.

US authorities have insisted that the flu strain found on the farm in Texas is different from the one that killed at least 22 people in Asia. The Department of Agriculture said that the virus does not pose a danger to humans.

This, of course, has not stopped numerous countries slapping bans on US poultry as a precaution. The European Union and twelve other countries have banned all US poultry shipments, while 15 other countries have banned poultry from the affected states. Russia, the largest poultry export market for the US for example, announced a ban only on imports from Texas.

European health commissioner David Byrne said that it was important that Europe should adopt a consistent approach with regard to the protection of animal health. "We should only take such measures that are proportionate to the risk this issue presents to the EU,"​ he said. "It is not as virulent as the outbreak in Asia, but nevertheless its a highly contagious virus and therefore does require an immediate response from the EU."

The bans have sparked concern among industry experts that chicken shipments once destined for export will instead pile up here and depress prices for all meats. Shares of pork producer Smithfield Foods closed down 13 cents at $24.32 on Tuesday, increasing fears that the US could be soon be left with a meat mountain.

This is yet more bad news for North America's embattled meat industry. The US exports about 15 per cent of its chicken, which was worth about $2 billion last year, and the loss of these vital poultry export markets comes at a time when US beef exports have also been badly affected.

The first US case of mad cow disease in December prompted a near-global ban on US beef that remains in place today. Until then, the US had been exporting about 10 per cent of its beef every year.

In a bizarre twist, the US decided yesterday to suspend imports of French meat and poultry products due to what it called 'repeated problems.' The USDA said that the move was totally unrelated to the EU-imposed ban on US meat products, and came about because of problems with French plants that have been certified to export.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more