China's swine fever outbreak may benefit Brazil, U.S. exporters: JBS executive

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA is seen in the city of Jundiai, Brazil June 1, 2017. Picture taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - An outbreak of a deadly virus threatening pork production in China may be a boon to Brazilian and U.S. exporters, meat processor JBS SA’s chief executive said in a live webcast on Tuesday.

Gilberto Tomazoni said the swine fever outbreak could change the overall landscape for protein trade, affecting not only pork markets but potentially other meat types like poultry and beef.

“China has already significantly increased pork imports from Brazil due to the outbreak,” said Tomazoni, who was appointed chief executive of JBS earlier this month.

As China scrambles to control what he called a sanitary crisis, Brazilian and U.S. meat exporters stand to benefit, Tomazoni said in answer to questions from two analysts at Brazilian brokerage XP Investimentos.

China, already the destination for roughly half of Brazilian pork exports, produces close to 55 million tons of the meat annually, compared with close to 4 million tons for Brazil.

The fever, which first broke out in early August, prompted a Chinese campaign to curb illegal hog slaughtering and build more large-scale slaughterhouses.

The campaign will last from December to May next year as Beijing tackles the highly contagious disease that threatens the world’s largest pig herd.

“In our industry, food security and sanitary issues have a big impact,” Tomazoni said referring to problems in China, the world’s top pork producer and consumer.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Nick Zieminski