Brazil´s poultry exports grow by 8.5% despite bird flu

Carlos Fávaro, Brazil's minister of agriculture, livestock and food supply.
Carlos Fávaro, Brazil's minister of agriculture, livestock and food supply. Photo: Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Ministério da Agricultura e Pecuária - Mapa)

Brazilian chicken meat exports totalled 2.629 million tonnes in the first half of 2023, an 8.5% increase compared to 2.423 million tonnes in the same period last year.

This growth happened under the threat of avian flu, which was first identified in Brazil in May and has since advanced to 63 confirmed outbreaks.

Of the 63 confirmed cases, 62 have occurred in wild birds and only 1 in subsistence animals (backyard). These cases should not result in commercial consequences in accordance with international agreements – only cases in commercial flocks should impact exports. However, Japan did suspend imports of poultry products from Espírito Santo.


According to the Brazilian Association of Animal Proteins (ABPA), revenue from January to June 2023 reached US$5.168 billion, up 9.3% compared to the same period in 2022 (US$4.728 billion).

Considering only June, Brazilian exports of chicken meat reached 446,200 tonnes, a number 3.2% higher than that registered in the same month of 2022 (432,500 tonnes).

Meanwhile, export revenues reached US$887.5 million, which is 6.7% lower than the US$951.7 million registered in June 2022.

By country, these were the main importers in January to June 2023:

  • China: 390,700 tonnes (33% higher than the first half of 2022)
  • Japan: 219,800 tonnes (+8.5%)
  • United Arab Emirates: 200,100 tonnes (-18.3%)
  • South Africa: 189,700 tonnes (+16.5%)
  • Saudi Arabia: 176,800 tonnes (+8.4%)

Billionaire losses

The National Union of Agricultural Federal Tax Auditors (Anffa Sindical) has released a new study that estimates the annual impact on the national economy at R21.7 billion (R11.8 in the sector alone) in the event of the spread of disease on commercial farms in Brazil.

The study by Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV-Agro) also predicts a loss of 46,000 formal jobs in various sectors, in addition to a drop of R1.3 billion in tax collection and a reduction of R3.8 billion in Brazilian income.

The worst impact would be on agribusiness activities losing 26,000 jobs. ABPA classified such numbers as overestimated, despite recognising the negative effect that the disease can bring.

“Global collapse”

The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Carlos Fávaro, defended a global discussion on health crises involving animal protein products to make international protocols on avian flu more flexible.

According to the minister, the debate should take place within the scope of the World Organization for Animal Health to avoid a collapse in global supply.

“Today, the protocol is very strict and even dangerous for guaranteeing the supply of chicken meat to the world,” he said.

For Fávaro, the international rules in force favour an internal and also an international collapse. This is because Brazil is one of 4 countries that have not yet been affected by the occurrence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in commercial farms. The other 3 are Paraguay, Australia, and New Zealand.

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Daniel Azevedo Freelance journalist Brazil