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Avian Flu Threatens Food Supply Chain and Economy – FAIRR

The ongoing global avian flu crisis has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the private and public sectors, leading to significant economic losses, according to a new analysis by the investor network FAIRR. In the US, the avian flu outbreak has caused the loss of approximately 40 million animals and economic costs ranging from US$2.5 to US$3 billion. The ramifications extend to protein producers and companies throughout the food supply chain, causing fluctuations in share prices, the report noted. US-based Tyson Foods’ difficulties fulfilling consumer demands for chickens has resulted in an operating income loss of US$258 million, exacerbated by staffing issues. According to a University of Surrey analysis, intensive commercial poultry farming in the UK, characterised by high stocking density, may facilitate viral transmission, impacting animal welfare, health, and the economy. The research emphasises that smaller flocks with increased bird movement can reduce mortality rates, crucial for effective disease control strategies. Investors are urged to assess ESG and biosecurity risks in their investee companies’ protein supply chains. Engaging with companies to enhance factors like animal welfare is vital to mitigate disease risks, said FAIRR. At the policy level, investors can advocate for changes in agricultural production practices, such as ending close confinement. Policymakers should also consider financing initiatives like vaccine development and support for farmers. The report also recommended preventing the siting of commercial farms in areas with high wild bird populations and implementing capacity building programmes for disease control. It also encouraged policymakers to incentivise best practices, promote knowledge sharing, and explore novel resource mobilisation approaches to reduce risk and prevent future outbreaks, the report added. Reports of human avian flu infections around the world indicate a potential mutation of the virus.

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