Brazil cattle slaughtering slumps as COVID-19 hits packers; chicken and pigs resilient

The slaughtering of cattle in Brazil over the first quarter slowed to the lowest level since 2012 for the period, reaching 7.25 million head, the government’s statistics agency IBGE said June 10.

IBGE did not provide a reason for the fall, but in March some local companies reduced the number of people on duty at beef plants to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which may partly explain the drop in slaughtering in the world’s largest beef exporter.

Meat packers have become a breeding ground for the virus as employees work in densely packed stations under often low room temperatures.

Compared to the fourth quarter, Brazil’s cattle slaughtering dropped 10.2 per cent, according to the IBGE, driven by Mato Grosso state, Brazil’s biggest grain and meat producer.

Brazilian chicken and pork slaughtering, on the other hand, reached new records in the first quarter due to strong export demand, according to IBGE data.

The data mainly refers to a period before a series of plants in the south of the country were temporarily closed due to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, and the effect on production has yet to be seen.

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