But Thailand and Brazil could see big export wins
Bird flu could lead to a 105,000-tonne fall in the amount of chicken meat exported from the European Union this year, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It would be an 8.9 per cent decline in volumes, the biggest fall in 16 years.
Importers such as South Africa and the Philippines have placed restrictions on EU meat following various outbreaks of bird flu across the union.
Outbreaks have been reported across most EU countries. It has hit France, which has the largest poultry flock in the EU, particularly hard.
But EU prices have so far shown little reaction since the first discovery of the H5N8 strain in Hungary in October 2016.
Thailand has also not seen an uplift in prices as it targets replacing exports from affected countries such as the US. There have been no reports of the disease in Thailand.
According to figures from Rabobank, Thailand increased its total exports by 6 per cent in 2016 and the reopening of raw meat exports to South Korea and Singapore could provide additional growth.
The Thai Government has estimated a 4 per cent rise in poultry exports. However, this ‘golden opportunity’ will only exist if the country can remain disease free.
Rabobank senior animal protein analyst Nan-Dirk Mulder said the impact on the global trade was significant.
“The recent Chinese human avian flu cases dramatically turned Chinese market conditions, especially at wet markets, and this will indirectly reduce the appetite for poultry imports in the coming months,” he said.
“This will affect global markets for wings, feet, and legs – especially Brazil, which is a major exporter to China.”
He added there were some suspicious cases of human to human infections of the H7N9 strain which had the potential to cause a pandemic.
Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have put restrictions on imports of US poultry meat, which has provided a further opportunity for Thai exports.
Brazil could also benefit from the epidemic if it can remain disease free.
USDA estimated Brazilian exports could grow by 10 per cent in 2017 ‘mostly due to the negative impact of avian influenza in several countries’.