Bird flu outbreaks in parts of Asia, as well as the US,
represent a "golden opportunity" for Thailand in chicken exports, raising the
prospect of another record year – as long as the country remains disease free.
Thailand's government has estimated at 4% the rise in the
country's poultry meat exports this year, flagging the reopening of exports to
South Korea late in 2016, after a 12-year ban Seoul imposed on bird flu fears.
However, the pace of increase could end up potentially at
double that, as bird flu outbreaks affect production in the likes of Malaysia
and Vietnam, besides South Korea, while raising question marks over some
exporting countries, such as the US, said Bualuang Securities.
The Bangkok-based broker pegged chicken shipments from
Thailand - the world's fourth-ranked exporter, after Brazil, the US and the
European Union - at a record 780,000-800,000 tonnes.
That compares with 742,969 tonnes last year, according to
data from the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association.
"Bird flu outbreaks have become widespread in Asian
chicken-producing countries in the past few months," said Bualuang Securities,
even as the World Organisation for Animal Health reported a case of H5N8 bird
flu, a severe strain, in Nepal, where the H5N1 was found last month.
Last week, Malaysia reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on
a backyard farm in the north of the country, while South Korea culled a further
50,000 birds to take its cull this winter nearly to 35m since a case was found
In Europe, Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo culled 20 pelicans on
Friday after it finding its flock infected with H5N8 bird flu.
Meanwhile, the US has reported three bird findings this month,
two in Tennessee and on in Wisconsin.
Separately, China on Monday reported 61 fatalities and 160
cases last month of human infection from H7N9 bird flu, taking the death toll
this winter, since October, to 161.
The outbreaks are, besides cutting production potential in
some nations, prompting import curbs, with Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan among
countries last week imposing restrictions on purchases from the US.
However, the "bird flu crises in the US and Asian countries
including Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, South Korea and Japan, are
providing an opportunity for gains in Thailand's chicken exports in 2017", Bualuang
The outbreaks present "a golden opportunity for Thailand to
increase chicken exports… in 2017, especially to Japan, Malaysia and South
This was a factor likely to "strengthen domestic chicken
prices" this year.
However, the issue has yet to find an echo in markets, with
chicken prices at 39.5 baht per kilogramme up 2.6% year on year as of last
week, according to Tisco Securities.
Meanwhile, on the Bangkok stock market, prices of shares in
major chicken producers such as Thaifoods Group, GFPT and Charoen Pokphand
Foods have headed sideways this month.
Bualuang acknowledged its assessment was based on Thailand
remaining bird-flu free.
The country has in fact been free of disease outbreaks in recent
years, following considerable investment in it production facilities.
US Department of Agriculture officials in Thailand noted last
year that "nearly all broiler houses are equipped with evaporative cooling
systems, which reduces disease exposure and mortality rates.
"The closed-farming system has been instrumental in
preventing a return of [bird flu] incidents."