Avian influenza cuts world growth estimates

Latest data released by FAO indicate that during 2006, the expansion in chickenmeat output was almost 60% below what was anticipated, while the figure for eggs was around 40% lower.

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Growth in the worldwide output of chickenmeat last year was more than halved mainly as a result of the impact of avian influenza (AI) on production and demand. Egg output was also lower than might have been expected, but to a lesser extent. However, not all cutbacks can be attributed to the impact of this disease, which badly hit parts of Asia, Europe and Africa.

Global view

Based on the latest FAO update and there will be further revisions in the months ahead global chickenmeat output in 2006 amounted to 73.13 million tonnes (mt), see Table 1 and Figure 1. This was just 1.7% up on the year-earlier level of 71.94mt. The rate of growth over the previous five years had averaged around 4%.

For eggs, the expansion on the year amounted to 1.8%, which compares with around 3% annually between 2000 and 2005.

Unfortunately, the 2006 figures are still not available for a number of countries and so the full impact of the disease on production has yet to be evaluated. Where this information is not available, the 2005 output figures have been used to give some assessment of the regional totals. This is particularly true for many African countries. Hence although the regional total to date shows a decline of only 3% or so on the year, we already know that cutbacks in some African countries have been greater.



Chickenmeat production by region


When all the countries in the Americas region return their figures, last year's total will have witnessed slower growth than in recent years.


The area that looks likely to have recorded the most rapid expansion last year is Asia. Here, the total at 24.32mt is up by more than 4%, much of which can be attributed to a 3% upswing in China to 10.7mt. While only a few of the countries in this region have so far reported a downturn in production, the number can be expected to grow as a more complete picture emerges, which could lower the overall growth for the region as a whole.


Overall, Europe has suffered less from the impact of the disease than anticipated, with the total of 10.94mt actually a shade up on the previous year. However, this disguises some wide variations. Production in France and Italy, for example, slumped by around 10% and many countries recorded cutbacks of 3% or more. These losses were largely offset by a reported 14% expansion in Russia, where annual production has been put at 1.53mt compared with 1.35mt in 2005.


Chickenmeat production in Oceania looks to have slipped a shade last year although here again, there was a wide variation between New Zealand, which witnessed a near 10% cutback of some 16,000t and Australia where output went up by almost 2% (13,000t).

Egg output by region

The effect of AI on egg production has been much less pronounced (see Table 2 and Figure 2). The rate of growth of this sector of the industry has always been slower than the meat side, tending to average around 3% in recent years. The latest assessment for 2006 stands at 60.7mt, 2% above the revised total for 2005 of 59.6mt.

Despite a reduction of almost 14% in Morocco, hen egg production for Africa might show a small increase on the year. It should be noted that estimates for several countries and in particular Egypt, have yet to be provided.

The picture for America is similar although this could change when the data for Brazil becomes available.

As in the chickenmeat sector, the regional total for Asia is greatly influenced by the estimates for China, which indicate that egg output last year rose by more than one million tonnes or 4% to 25.33mt.

Surprisingly, while egg growth in Europe between 2000 and 2005 averaged less than 1%, last year appears to have witnessed an expansion of 2.5% to top 10.0mt. Main reason for this was a 4% increase in Eastern Europe, stemming from sizeable expansions in Belarus, Ukraine, and again, the Russian Federation.

With Australia accounting for more than 70% of the total for Oceania, what happens in this country dominates the picture for the region and it appears that last year egg output in Australia failed to match the year-earlier level.



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