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JBS, Minerva scaling back in Brazil

Poultry and pork processors have no plans to cut production or place workers on leave.

Two large Brazilian meat processing companies are suspending operations as a result of decreased export demand due to COVID-19. JBS confirmed to Feedstuffs Wednesday that it is suspending operations beginning March 19 at five of its 37 plants in Brazil while Minerva S.A. told Reuters this week that it is placing employees on paid leave at four of its plants.

“These temporary suspensions, or holidays, are fairly routine in Brazil in response to market dynamics,” a JBS spokesperson told Feedstuffs.

Minerva told Reuters that its workers will be placed on leave beginning next Monday for 10-15 days, depending on the plant. Two of the plants are located in Brazil's Mato Grosso state, one in São Paulo and the other in the state of Minas Gerais, Minerva said.

Meanwhile, meat producer association ABPA relayed that pork and poultry processors in Brazil have no plans to scale back production or place workers on paid leave.

Ricardo Santin, ABPA executive director, told Reuters that while the crisis is changing consumer habits, it has not had a significant impact on domestic or export demand.

"Our sector is not like that of beef producers, who can leave cattle grazing on pastures," Santin said. "We are conscious that this is a complicated moment, and all of our companies have contingency plans."

Santin said he expects pork and poultry daily volumes during the first 10 days of March to indicate that export figures will be strong and in line with the same month last year.

With many countries still dealing with animal diseases like African swine fever and avian flu, Santin noted that Brazil will continue to benefit from strong food imports into Asia.

Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture Tereza Cristina said during a March 18 speech that Brazilian agriculture will be able to supply food to the marketplace and offered reassurance that there should be no concern about COVID-19 impacts and changes that may need to be made.

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