July 7, 2018
Russian agricultural holdings Cherkizovo and Damate have been affected heavily by a series of outbreaks of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI), which were reported in four regions, causing major concern all over the nation.
Cherkizovo, the second-biggest broiler meat producer in Russia, has culled all poultry stock at the Vertunoskyi poultry farm in Penza Oblast due to AI. It was an isolated farm producing hatching eggs for the company’s internal needs, and the nearest poultry farm raising broilers for sale is located 200km away from the affected production facility.
Cherkizovo was hit by AI despite huge investments in bio-security. Over the past two years, the company has allocated RUB3 billion ($50m) to protect its production assets from biological threats and natural calamities. The company’s total loss from the outbreak has been estimated at RUB100m ($1.5m). The company had culled 290,000 chickens, or 7- 10% of its total principal stock.
Damate, the company, which is the biggest turkey meat producer in Russia, had to cull 470,000 turkeys, or 10% of its total turkey population. The outbreaks have incurred Damate losses of RUB400m ($6.5m). As a result, the company said it would not be able to achieve the growth in production volumes originally scheduled for the coming months. Damate had planned to maintain its current production levels at 5,500 to 6,000 tonnes per month.
Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor confirmed that AI originally emerged in small holdings in the Penza region. As of 27 June, AI outbreaks were also confirmed in the Kursk, Samara and Orel regions, while the exact number of poultry farms affected is yet to be revealed
After conducting laboratory tests, Rosselkhoznadzor issued a statement, saying that the identified strain of the virus posed no danger to human health. It was already known that meat infected with AI had hit grocery shelves, with some batches of infected product found in the city of Ufa, in a region that is officially free from AI.
Several countries, including Belarus, Kazakhstan and UAE, have restricted poultry imports from the affected regions of Russia. Both Cherkizovo and Damate do supply some poultry products to export markets, but the companies have not said if the restrictions were likely to affect their operations. Cherkizovo and Damate will need to look into poultry imports to suffice the need of the consumers.