US poultry will handle new virus ‘better’

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

August's influenza outbreak was 'staggering' says poultry council
August's influenza outbreak was 'staggering' says poultry council

Related tags: Bird, Influenza vaccine, Livestock

American poultry firms are now better equipped to deal with an outbreak of avian influenza (AI), thanks to improved biosecurity measures, risk management firm Moody says.

AI cost the US poultry and egg industry $390m in August 2015​ and, as a result of that outbreak – which killed 43m birds, there have been widespread changes made to safeguard livestock against another fatal outbreak.

Now, any financial fallout linked to a Type A influenza is believed to be safer and, according to Moody’s report on the US poultry market, “much less severe​”.

In the report, published on 24 November 2015, Moody’s Investors Service vice-president Brian Weddington said: "The larger, more diversified food producers are best positioned to withstand segment earnings pressure, including turkey producer Hormel, egg producer Post Holdings and chicken processor Tyson Foods."

Earnings 'will fall'

Despite sweeping changes to biosecurity – including better cleaning, disinfection and vaccination measures - Moody’s analysts still expect the earning in the poultry industry to fall in 2016.

Trade restrictions on the export of poultry will be the catalyst for any dip in industry profits, especially if another outbreak of AI is detected, the report claims.

Of those hit hardest by a new outbreak, it is "the turkey industry [that] would again bear the biggest brunt, but not as severely as it did last spring"​, added Weddington.

He concluded: “Turkey processors would not feel the impact until several months after the important holiday peak selling seasons, giving them more time to replenish flocks for next year.”

The report comes at a good time for the poultry industry, still reeling from the devastating outbreak in August, which the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council described as “staggering”.

Related topics: Meat

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