April 18, 2013

Bird flu poses risk to US processors: Fitch

The impact of the bird-flu virus could spread to companies from other countries with a significant business presence in China, according to Fitch Ratings. The ratings firm said companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Tyson Foods, Inc., JBS S.A. and Yum! Brands could be affected if poultry consumption in China continues to decline. "We believe rising consumer fears around avian influenza in China [or elsewhere if human-to-human cases develop], could cause a meaningful pullback in chicken consumption with fewer restaurant visits, lower retail chicken sales and reduced export activity. Respiratory pandemics such as the 2003 SARS epidemic and past outbreaks of animal disease or food-borne illnesses negatively affected the operating earnings and cash flow of US protein processors and restaurant companies," Fitch reported. "Past outbreaks include the H1N1 swine-flu virus in the US during 2009 and the spread of the H5N1 bird flu through Asia during the 2003-2006 period."  Read More

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