Covid-19: Impact on the global poultry sector

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Brazil: Poultry plants to close due to Covid-19

3 Brazilian poultry plants were forced to halt operations due to outbreaks of the coronavirus among employees in Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil. The plants produce for BRF (Brazil Foods) and JBS. Over 100 employees have tested positive for the new coronavirus at Passo Fundo and Lajeado in Rio Grande do Sul state.

Passo Fundo municipality, in the North of the state, ordered a “precautionary ban” to a JBS facility for 15 days from 7 may onwards. The slaughterhouse was suspended by order of Regional Labour Authority since April 24, but its operation was reopened just last week by the Justice.

As workers at Brazilian processing plants fall ill, governement shuts the plants down. Photo: Fabian Brockotter
As workers at Brazilian processing plants fall ill, governement shuts the plants down. Photo: Fabian Brockotter

The plant has more than 2,500 workers and, according to the Labour Public Ministry, 62 have tested positive for the new coronavirus. “JBS formally contests the arguments presented in the notice of infraction issued by Passo Fundo municipality (RS) that contradicts judicial decision of the 2nd Labour Court of Passo Fundo, of May 4th, which authorised the resumption of the unit’s operations. The company has adopted all necessary preventive measures for the protection and safety of its employees and will take all appropriate measures to reverse the municipal ban.”

JBS formally contests the arguments presented in the notice of infraction...”

BRF poultry provider also impacted

At the Minuano´s plant, in Lajeado city, a BRF´s poultry provider is also impacted. According to local news, the Justice determined that the company must reduce employee’s presence by half in the production area. The state prosecutor (Public Ministry, MP) wanted the Minuano to close completely and had the same idea for another BRF´s facility in the same city. In total, BRF and Minuano employ over 4,000 people in the slaughterhouses in Lajeado and, according to the MP, 45 are contaminated. The company highlights that food production is an essential sector and, for this reason, “it continues to operate and maintain its commitment to the health and safety of employees, the production chain and supplying the population,” said BRF´s note for the press.

Brazil's poultry sector barely affected by Covid-19
The Cepea´s study about the coronavirus impact on Brazilian agribusiness concludes that the poultry sector is barely affected, meeting projections in trade and jobs.

The company also announced a series of measures it is taking to contain the coronavirus and protect employees. The group also pointed out that it signed a commitment with the Labour Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPT), ensuring that measures to protect workers have already adopted.