The global avian flu crisis has already led to significant economic losses for the private and public sector. There is a risk that the disease has now mutated, with a number of human avian flu infection cases being reported around the world.
In the US, it is estimated that the avian flu outbreak has resulted in approximately 40 million animal losses and is associated with economic costs ranging from US$2.5 to US$3 billion. Mass culling of poultry on a global scale due to avian flu infection is exacerbating global food price inflation and products, including eggs and chicken ready meals, have increased in price following the most recent epidemic. Moreover, there are material implications for protein producers and companies across the food supply chain with the share prices of some of the world’s largest poultry producer companies being affected.
This report intends to provide a summary for both policymakers and investors on the avian flu crisis. It looks at the rise in infections globally, the financial and economic implications for the food sector, the potential impact on trade and the global economy and implications for workers. It also provides an analysis of emerging policy recommendations, highlighting the importance of taking a One Health approach to address the drivers of disease risk. As part of this report, a study from the University of Surrey finds that keeping birds in smaller flocks, where they have increased movement, results in fewer birds dying. This result could be particularly important for implementing disease control strategies, such as moving or quarantining healthy birds, and introducing vaccination intervention in a timely manner so that disease spread can be slowed.
Building on FAIRR’s previous Industry Reinfected report, we provide an update of previous analysis from the Emerging Disease Risk Ranking. The latest analysis shows that amongst the different proteins, the poultry sector has been the worst performer on average over the last four years (2019-2022). This is despite improvements in recent years. The poultry sector has consistently performed poorly when compared to the average performance of other protein companies in the areas of waste and pollution and food safety metrics.
This report offers FAIRR investor members:
Analysis of the financial and economic implications for the food sector, the potential impact on trade and the global economy and implications for workers of the current avian flu outbreak.
A study from the University of Surrey examining how poultry movement and density affect disease transmission through a model which simulated the spread of avian flu in a population of broiler chickens, finding that keeping birds in smaller flocks, where they have increased movement, results in fewer birds dying.
Update of FAIRR’s Emerging Disease Risk Ranking 2022-23, which explores the role intensive animal agriculture is playing in perpetuating the drivers of disease spread.
Recommendations for investors and policymakers to ensure the poultry sector is able to overcome the current avian flu epidemic and is future-proofed against new emerging diseases.