Brazil chicken exports fall yet prospects good due to China, halal market

SAO PAULO, May 11 (Reuters) - Brazilian chicken export volumes fell in April as excessive holidays affected shipment flows, meat group ABPA said on Monday, yet demand from China and key markets in the Middle East suggest prospects remain good.

Last month, Brazil exported 343,300 tonnes of chicken, down 4.7%. Between January and April, the country exported 1.36 million tonnes of chicken, up 5.1% by volume, ABPA figures showed.

“In addition to the expected increase in sales to China, there was a considerable increase in exports to destinations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East,” said ABPA President Francisco Turra. By telephone, Turra explained a drop in sales in April was a one-off issue caused by the number of holidays in the month that reduced working days for boarding.

China, he said, has been increasing imports of Brazilian chicken since January, and responded for around 18% of the total chicken exported by Brazil. Because China’s attempt to grow its own production was not immediately successful, they should continue to rely on Brazil for meat.

“They got off to a good start, but soon after that came a new outbreak of avian flu and the coronavirus pandemic,” Turra said, adding this limited China’s own supplies of chicken meat.

The Arab countries, which import halal products made under Muslim dietary standards, also tried to boost domestic production to be able to import less. ABPA data show that in April Saudi Arabia purchased 34,600 tonnes of chicken from Brazil, down 11%. The country is the third-largest buyer of Brazilian protein.

However, demand from Saudi Arabia will tend to remain strong, as the country’s decision to substitute imports with locally produced meat will likely be delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tamer Mansour, general secretary for the Arab-Brazil Chamber.

According to Mansour, over the past two weeks Arab importers started to agree to more purchases of Brazilian chicken in order to guarantee food security for the people. (Reporting by Nayara Figueiredo Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)