Expert opinion

Disease changes landscape for years

The poultry sector had its fair share of disease problems. Avian influenza, mainly caused by wild birds, has hit the industry hard. That said, we are able to cope with the new reality and even if the disease hits, it doesn’t take long to restock our houses.

Financial recovery can take some years, but production can quickly resume because of our short cycles and relatively easy worldwide transportation of hatching eggs, chicks and parent stock. Avian influenza is dramatic, but it is far from the nightmare which is going on with African swine fever in China and many other countries around the world. This disease will change the animal protein landscape for years.

The acute problem is to stop the swine disease from spreading. Knowing there is no existing vaccine and the virulence is high, that is a huge challenge in itself. But even if the acute situation is tackled, it will not be easy to get production up. Pig production cycles are long and even worse, a large part of the worlds breeding stock is affected too. To get some perspective: in China alone 200 million pigs are culled, more than the whole European pig production. At the same time the disease is spreading to other Asian countries with large pig production and has been found in Europe as well.

For the poultry sector there are new chances on the horizon. It is in good shape to cover the animal protein deficiency of the world and it can do so at low cost. Soy is cheap as a consequence of the drop in demand from the pig sector. The only thing there is to do is ramp up our output and at the same time make sure we keep disease out!