HPAI impact on U.S. meat sector limited

Largest losses in egg industry as cases continue to emerge.

Avian influenza hasn't had a lot of impact on the U.S. meat business yet, according to Steve Meyer, vice president of pork analysis for Express Markets Inc. Analytics, speaking at the 2015 World Pork Expo.

While avian flu has significantly affected the egg industry, the disease has had only two impacts so far on the U.S. meat sector, Meyer told Feedstuffs.

First, the U.S. industry has lost about 2.5% of its turkeys. “Some of that's a short-term loss of grower flocks; others is the longer-term loss of breeder flocks that will have some impact for a year to year-and-a-half,” he explained.

Second, Meyer said the disease has had the immediate impact of stopping exports. For example, Minnesota is currently unable to export turkey products. As a result, turkey thigh meat prices have gone down considerably.

Arkansas, because of one influenza case in turkeys, can't export raw poultry products right now, which Meyer said is significant because the state is the third-largest chicken producer.

Prices for leg quarters have fallen because they can't be exported, he said, adding that some leg quarters have gone to rendering because of the low price.

Although Meyer said avian flu hasn’t had “a big impact on the meat business yet, the risk is when these migratory birds start back South in the fall. Will we carry this back into Arkansas, east Texas, eastern Oklahoma? Will it get to the Atlantic flyaway because of these birds mingling in Canada? Then, you have the Delmarva Peninsula, Georgia and Alabama, which are the number-one and -two states in broiler production.”

If this happens, Meyer said the problem will become much more detrimental because a large portion of exports will be blocked.

“You have much more product on the U.S. market that has to be absorbed. That puts pressure on poultry prices, which puts pressure on pork,” he explained.

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