The Brazilian truck drivers’ strike should now come to an end with approval of the new Truck Drivers’ Law. Protestors’ complaints remain unaddressed; however, the law contains sufficient reforms to bring the action to an end.

For the poultry sector, the protest had become increasingly difficult, with more than 60 pig and poultry processing plants having to reduce or suspend operations.

Initial estimates by the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) suggest that the strike has cost the pig and poultry sector US$241 million. Seventy percent of slaughter operations in the south of the country, where the pig and poultry industries are concentrated, was affected.

JBS, for example, stopped production at eight processing sites in the states of Parana and Santa Catarina. The company said that its primary difficulties lay in getting grains to feed animals, and in securing processing inputs, such as packaging. Additionally, the strikes prevented trucks reaching processing plants to take meat away.

Santa Catarina, Parana, and the state of Mato Grosso do Sul were all affection by the truck drivers’ action and account for 75 percent of JBS’ production.

The strike resulted in the executive president of the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA), Francisco Turra, meeting representatives of the truck drivers union in late February to try to find a way forward for producers and, following discussions, he expressed optimism that the action would come to an end once the Truck Drivers’ Law had been approved.

While operations at some pig and poultry operations have already restarted, others remain out of action, and time will be needed to for the pig and poultry sectors to return to normal. Some routes remain blocked by a few remaining striking truck drivers, and Turra notes that the industry remains in a "state of alert."

February’s poultry exports still higher

Despite the strike action, Brazil still managed to export more poultry meat in February, with exports by volume rising by 1.5 percent to 302,100 tons. In dollar terms, however, exports contracted by 6.7 percent to US$518.1 million.

Turra commented: “The volume of shipments during the month could have been much higher if we had not had to deal with the serious problems resulting from the strike in the main production centers and blockade of export ports for poultry products.”