Turkey shortage, egg prices rise, Europe faces 'worst bird flu ever'
"Winter is coming, I wanted to buy some chicken and eggs to go home to make roast chicken or other desserts, but I didn't expect the price to become so expensive?" French resident Alexandre (Alexandre Espinet) complained to the first financial reporter. The price of everything is still rising at an accelerated rate, some time ago it was the price of oil, and now it has become the price of chicken and eggs."
The above phenomenon is not only due to high inflation, but also stems from the bird flu that is raging in many European countries.
On the 10th local time, France raised the country's bird flu risk level from "intermediate" to "high". According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, from August 1 to November 8 this year, there were 49 outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu in France, and the number of cases is still rising.
According to data updated by the British government on the 10th, since the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in England in October 2021, a total of 237 cases of avian influenza infection in poultry have been reported in England, and 103 cases have been reported since October this year. The risk of UK wild birds being infected with HPH5 avian influenza virus is currently assessed as "very high" and the risk of British poultry being exposed to HPH5 avian influenza virus is assessed as "high" depending on the conditions in which they are kept or "medium".
Meng Weixiao, chief analyst of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery at Zheshang Securities, said in an interview with a reporter from China Business News that the current outbreak of bird flu in Europe is mainly due to the current strong transmission of H5N1 bird flu and the infection of a large number of wild birds. This will first of all have an impact on the agricultural and food sectors in Europe, and will also affect poultry trade in Europe and with other countries."
"Worst Bird Flu Outbreak"
Although Europe is no stranger to bird flu, many governments in the region are still reminding the seriousness of this round of bird flu. Kerry Middlemes, the UK government's chief veterinary officer, said in a statement: "This year we are facing the largest outbreak of bird flu ever seen, with rapidly rising numbers of cases in commercial farms and domestic birds across England." EU Food Safety The agency said last month that Europe had suffered its worst bird flu outbreak so far this year.
In Meng Weixiao's view, there are two main reasons behind the current severe bird flu epidemic in Europe. First of all, the strain of avian influenza virus circulating in Europe this time is the H5N1 virus. Compared with the previously popular H5N8 virus, the H5N1 virus has the characteristics of high transmissibility. The reason is that the H5N1 virus can reassort many genes and produce many different genotypes, which accelerates the speed of transmission. "Secondly, the avian influenza virus has caused a large number of wild birds to be infected, especially the long-legged birds that live on the shore of water bodies - shorebirds. Shorebirds can spread the virus to a wider range through long-distance migration. Meng Weixiao further explained.
Iqbal, head of the avian influenza team at the Purbright Institute, a British virus research institute, also believes that the current European avian influenza epidemic is very serious because the avian influenza virus spreads among wild birds, and the range of wild birds has no boundaries. Ten species of wild birds have carried the virus, which may cause serious diseases in poultry such as chickens and ducks."
In order to prevent the further spread of bird flu, the governments of many European countries have taken action. Currently, France has asked all poultry to remain indoors. The British government has also recently announced that all poultry in England must be kept indoors. At the same time, the British government also stated that the above measures alone are not enough to prevent bird flu, and all breeders must always follow other relevant biosecurity measures.
Not only that, many European countries have also culled poultry. Gressingham, one of the UK's largest chicken producers, said its entire goose flocks on three farms had been culled. "Our duck and turkey farms have also been affected," the company said.
As the EU's second largest poultry producer, France has culled about 22 million poultry. About 50 million poultry have been culled in Europe this year, the European Food Safety Authority said last month.
Turkey Shortage, Egg Prices Rising
Bird flu is ravaging Europe, causing chicken producers in the region to complain. Griffith, head of the British Poultry Council, said that the current epidemic of bird flu is particularly toxic to turkeys, ducks and geese. It hit poultry supplies over the Christmas period, and the impact is growing exponentially.
Gressingham said it was seeing reduced poultry supplies to all customers.
"We get calls from new customers every week asking how much their existing orders have been lost to bird flu. My old customers will get their supplies, but new orders will be hard to fill." Carl, British poultry farmer Kurt also said. He said it would be "devastating" and "seriously damage" his business if there were cases among his turkeys.
According to British media statistics, the current free-range turkey flock in the UK has lost nearly 40%, which will put pressure on market supply during the critical Christmas period. In addition, as of early October, the price of eggs in French supermarkets has risen by about 15% to 20% compared to the beginning of this year.
In Meng Weixiao's view, if the European bird flu continues, the impact may be further aggravated. "On the one hand, eggs are a raw material used by many food companies. The rise in egg prices will put pressure on downstream producers. At the same time, since France is the main source of eggs for the EU, the decline in the supply of eggs in France will also affect the entire EU region. In addition, It will also affect poultry trade with other countries and regions around the world," he said.
"You need a lot of eggs to make cakes or egg pasta, and some companies have started to change the recipe or stop the production line," said Coulonbert, vice-chairman of the French Egg Promotion Committee (CNPO). variety, or reduce the amount used. More rarely, simply replace the eggs with other alternatives such as peas or milk protein.”
According to data from the European Commission, from January to August this year, the volume of poultry meat exported by the EU (excluding the UK) fell by 14% year-on-year to 841,000 tons.
According to Meng Weixiao, if European countries want to increase the supply of poultry meat and reduce the impact of bird flu on the market in the future, vaccinating poultry is the most direct and effective way. "However, most European and American countries still adopt the purification mode of culling and zeroing out." He said.
Coulomber said: "We are in an unprecedented situation. In the previous (bird flu) crisis, we used to turn to imports, especially from the United States, but this year the situation is very bad everywhere."