Global Food Import/Export News Highlights – February 2021

3 min read
3 min read

Europe and Asia affected by food import bans due to avian flu

After the Covid-19 pandemic hit, there is another virus currently affecting the world, only this time, it`s birds who suffer the most as a highly contagious viral infection, with high mortality for poultry species, is quickly spreading worldwide.

Starting with October 2020, several countries from Europe and Asia have been hit by a new outbreak of H5N8 virus and its variety of subtypes, with the virus continuing to expand to North Africa. Affected countries have been looking for methods to contain and deal with the disease, unfortunately, measures imply cullings of millions of birds as well as stoping the trade of poultry and its products from the afflicted nations.

At the beginning of the year, China has already imposed a ban on poultry import from France and Ireland.

This February, Hong Kong also suspended the import of poultry meat and products from Germany, Sweden, France, Poland, South Korea due to avian influenza.

Also included on the list of affected countries, the Philippines is extending the ban on the importation of birds and their products from Poland, France, South Korea and the Netherlands.

This month, Oman prohibited the import of live birds, their products and derivatives from seven more countries, the ban consisting now of the countries: France, Ukraine, Hungary, Lithuania, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Iraq, Kuwait, Cambodia, Senegal and Tehran Province(Iran), as well as Haryana and Maharashtra(India).

South Korea is also among the worst affected countries by the highly contagious avian influenza, resulting in millions of bird cullings as well as eggs shortage and inflation.

Azerbaijan has temporarily forbidden the import of poultry and its products from some areas in Bulgaria, Korea, Ukraine, Germany, Northern Ireland, Poland, Romania, Iran, Sweden, Vietnam, Iraq, India, Wales, France and Belgium.

The list goes on with each affected country trying to implement restrictions to prevent an avian influenza pandemic similar to the one from 2017.

Israel to lift Japan food import ban, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster

After the nuclear disaster, Japan has been struggling with the aftermath of radiation concerns, to get back on track, and win back global consumers. In this regard, Japan starts the year on a positive note, as at the beginning of 2021, Israel becomes the latest country to lift restrictions for food import from Japan, imposed following radiation concerns past the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Recently lifted import bans on Japanese food were officiated in 2020 in the Philippines, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, UAE, and in 2019 in Bahrain, Congo, and Brunei.

The number of countries and regions that are currently keeping the ban on Japanese food import has been reduced to 15 from the 54 that were implemented immediately after the accident. The state of bans in remaining nations seems to be optimistic for Japan as several other countries are slowly but steadily relaxing food import restrictions including Singapore, China, Macau.

China to diversify its food import sources

Food importers will face higher competition in China as the country continues to widen and diversify its sources for food and agricultural products, with consumers demanding uniqueness and sophistication. However, after heavily relying on record levels of food import during the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, China is also now investing in the security of its food supply in the long term, particularly since self-sufficiency in domestic food production has become a priority in the political agenda for the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party this year.

Moreover, a hit product for China remains corn and other grains for animal feed. Weather impact on production and increased demand, particularly for livestock feed is rapidly diminishing the nation`s corn supplies. As consumption is now outpaced by production, and the prices rising, in the coming months, China is forecasted to be on the look for foreign producers who offer more affordable corn.

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