China’s custom announced on June 21 that it had suspended poultry imports under the code P5842 from one of Tyson Food’s [TSN:US] plants in Springdale, Arkansas, as reported by Reuters on the same day. This suspension came after Tyson’s confirmation that 481 of its employees, accounting for 13% of the total at the plant, were tested positive to coronavirus. According to the Chinese custom, all shipments from the Arkansas plant that had recently arrived at or on their way to the country will be detained. Tyson has neither confirmed the action nor revealed the specifics of total volumes affected.
By the end of April 2020, the US exported USD152m worth of poultry and related products to China compared to merely USD7m from the same period last year. This surge could be mainly attributed to China’s lift on its five-year ban on US poultry imports in November 2019 due to US bird flu in 2015. However, China’s own poultry production has increased 12.3% YoY in 2019, with a total of 22.38m tons and is facing a chicken surplus due to stagnant domestic demand. In addition, Brazil, the world’s largest chicken exporter, surged its chicken exports to China 55% YoY in 1Q20, reaching USD345m. Therefore, citing experts from Bric Agriculture, suspending poultry imports from Tyson would not significantly impact the Chinese market. Besides Tyson, China also recently banned pork imports from Tonnies, a German pork processor, after 1,331 over 2,000 employees were tested positive by June 22 for COVID-19 at its North Rhine-Westphalia.