Avian flu causes 20 percent drop in US poultry exports

Avian flu causes 20 percent drop in US poultry exports

Containerized exports of poultry through U.S. ports plunged 20 percent during the first half of 2015 because of a multistate outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Measured in 20-foot-equivalent units, first-half volume fell to 71,755 TEUs, according to PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS. In 2014, containerized poultry exports totaled 177,728 TEUs, down 4 percent from 2013.

Savannah, the largest U.S. port for containerized poultry exports, had a 17 percent year-over-year decline, to 31,410 TEUs in the first half of 2014. The steepest declines in were at Oakland, down 70 percent to 977 TEUs, and Mobile, down 65 percent to 2,524 TEUs.

U.S. poultry and egg exports have been hit hard by the HPAI outbreak, which has led several trading partners to restrict imports from the United States.

During the first half of this year, poultry exports measured in metric tons fell 10 percent, to 1.8 million tons, and 15 percent in value, to $2.2 billion, according to data compiled by the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service. June exports were down 14 percent in volume and 25 percent in value compared with a year earlier.

The government data on metric tons and value include overland exports to Mexico and Canada and waterborne shipment by non-containerized ships, and don’t correspond exactly with PIERS data on U.S. containerized exports.

But no matter which measurement is used, U.S. exports are taking a hit. The combined value of value of U.S. poultry and egg exports plunged 14 percent to $2.4 billion during the year’s first half, a drop the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council described as “staggering.”

Although no cases of the HPAI virus have been detected in seven weeks, a number of countries continue to impose restrictions on U.S. poultry products. Mexico, the largest U.S. export market, is among countries slow to lift restrictions.

Several countries have begun lifting their import restrictions on poultry products originating in certain U.S. states, now that more than 90 days have passed since affected farms were cleaned and disinfected, as the World Organization for Animal Health recommends.

Hong Kong this week announced it had lifted restrictions on poultry products from 10 previously banned counties in the states of Arkansas, Washington, Oregon and California. Japan and Singapore also recently removed restrictions.

The HPAI virus has been in hiatus during the warm summer months, but state and federal officials warn of a possible return this fall as migratory birds, thought to be the primary vectors of the virus, head south on the Atlantic flyway, which cuts through poultry-producing areas in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Broiler exports, excluding chicken paws, were down 9 percent in volume, to 1.52 million tons and 16 percent in value, to $1.68 million. Korea’s blanket ban on all U.S. poultry imports earlier this year was a significant contributor to the decline.

Chicken paw exports, which go primarily to Hong Kong, were down 21.6 percent in volume during the first half, to 110,315 tons, and 25.5 percent in value, to $148.6 million.

First-half turkey exports decreased 21 percent, to 1065,786 tons, while value fell 15 percent, to $285.7 million. Mexico, the main U.S. market for turkey exports, posted a 22 percent decline in volume to 79,597 tons.

January-June exports of eggs and egg products fell 9 percent in volume, to 145.13 million dozen shell egg equivalents, but export value rose 2 percent to $164 million, because of higher prices resulting from HPAI-induced U.S. domestic shortages.

Contact Joseph Bonney at joseph.bonney@ihs.com and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney.