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Chicken export volumes improving

Concerns remain over whether avian influenza will re-emerge in the U.S.

The latest announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service showed that broiler meat exports during November 2016 totaled just more than 250,000 metric tons, up more than 12%, or 27,000 mt, compared to the same month in 2015.

Urner Barry analyst Terence Wells said exported volumes continue to be higher than that the year-before levels.

“Mexico is still U.S. chicken’s top export market both in terms of volume and value; our neighbor to the south imported over 51,000 metric tons in November, which is about 2.5% less than they did the previous year. Further, their total volume for 2016 remains about 4.5% less than it did in 2015,” Wells said.

Industry-wide earnings for the 11-month period were recorded at $2.6 billion, nearly $200 million, or 6.9%, below last year. However, Wells said a positive note is that export movement has improved, and volumes are trending higher for a number of countries, including Cuba, Hong Kong, Guatemala, the Philippines and Vietnam.

While most trade barriers have been lifted and only a few remain, given how much worldwide news coverage avian influenza has received in recent weeks, Wells said there is still plenty of concern for the future of U.S. chicken exports.

“Will there be another outbreak here? Will it be anything like what was experienced in 2014-2015? While no one knows the answer to that question, it doesn’t mean everyone isn’t already paying close attention to the flyways,” he said of avian influenza transmission routes.

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