Avian flu costs US poultry and egg industry $390m

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Avian flu impacts the US poultry and egg export market
Avian flu impacts the US poultry and egg export market

Related tags Exports Influenza Mexico Poultry

The avian flu virus has cost the US egg and poultry industry nearly $390 million because of a 14% drop in exports during the first half of 2015 compared to 2014.

The value of US poultry and egg exports fell to $2.4bn, a decline in value of $386.3m, according to trade data compiled by the US Foreign Agricultural Service.

The USA Egg and Poultry Export Council (USAPEEC) said this sharp drop in export value, was a “graphic example”​ of the economic effect this year’s multi-state outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has had on the industry.

The avian flu virus has wiped out 48m birds in US states, including Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. However, there have been no new reported cases for over seven weeks.


Poultry meat exports for January to June plummeted by 9% to 1.84m metric tons (t), while value fell by 15% to $2.2bn. Exports of poultry meat for the month of June were down 14% to 305,504t, while value dipped by 25% to $348.8m, compared to the same month a year earlier.

The USAPEEC said the impact went beyond exports, as there was more product on the domestic market, which in turn meant lower prices that would add to the losses.


Monthly broiler exports (excluding chicken paws) for June also fell by 9% to 255,721t, with value sliding by 23% to $262.5m.
For the first half of the year, broiler exports dipped by 9% to 1.52m t while value fell by 16% to $1.68bn. The data showed that South Korea’s blanket ban on all US products earlier this year because avian flu was a significant contributor to the decline.
Export volumes to key markets for the first-half were mixed: Mexico was down 6% to 330,963t; Taiwan, up 52% to 106,274t; Canada, up 22% to 87,067t; Hong Kong, up 49% to 79,519t; Cuba, 71,076t, up 1%; Angola, 67,420t, down 29%; Iraq (including transshipments via Turkey), 55,976t, down 37%; Guatemala, 48,803t, down 24%; Georgia, 46,402t, up 4%; and Vietnam, 45,298t, up 78%.

Chicken paws (feet)

June paw exports fell by 35.3% to 16,657t, while value was down by 44.4% to $20.9m. Shipments to Hong Kong decreased by 22% to 15,442t.

Cumulative exports of paws for the first half declined by 21.6% to 110,315t as value dropped 25.5% to $148.6m.


In June US turkey exports fell by 40% to 18,945t and value dropped by 29% to $47.1m. This was largely down to a decrease of 45% of shipments to Mexico. Overall in the first half, exports decreased by 21% to 106,786t, while value fell by 15% to $285.7m.
The top five markets of Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Benin and Japan accounted for 77% of total first-half turkey export volumes, with Mexico alone accounting for 63%.
First-half turkey exports to Mexico were 79,597t, down 22%; Canada, 5,131t, up 2%; Hong Kong, 4,647t, up 64%; Benin, 3,830t, down 0.03%; and Japan, 2,973t, down 25%.


In June egg export volumes also took a hit, falling by 24% for the month to 9.97m dozen. The export value of eggs actually increased slightly to $14.6m, driven by higher market prices brought about by shortages due to the avian virus.
However, there was more positive news as a strong first quarter saw January-June egg exports rise by 5% to 83.2m dozen and value jumped by 16% to $101.14m. The top five markets of Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Bahamas, and Netherlands Antilles accounted for 95% of total exports for the period, and Mexico alone accounted for 40%.

Processed egg products

For egg products, June export value plummeted by 58% to $5.3m. Export sales to Japan were $1.9m, down 37% year-on-year, while export value to Mexico was $0.34m, down 91%.

For the first half the export value of egg products fell by 14% to $62m. Export value to Japan decreased by 15% to $20.5m, while exports to Mexico dipped by 5% to $17.7m.
Exports to the EU grew by 14% to $5.95m, exports to Canada and Hong Kong decreased by 21% and 19%, to $7.3m and $1.7m, respectively. Export sales to these top five markets totalled $53.11m, which accounted for 84.5% of total exports of US egg products.

Total egg exports (table eggs plus egg products in shell egg equivalent units) for the first half were 145.13m dozen, down 9% from the same period a year earlier, with an export value of $164m, up 2%.

The future

The good news is that some countries have begun lifting their import restrictions on poultry products from certain states, the USAPEEC said.

Hong Kong has lifted restrictions on 10 previously banned counties in the states of Arkansas, Washington, Oregon and California.

Some US trading partners have been slow to remove restrictions, however, including Mexico, the industry’s largest export market. Japan and Singapore have also recently removed restrictions.
There is still some concern that, in October, the virus could rear its head again as migratory birds head south and spread the virus again.

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