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Agribusiness is today a crucial vector of Brazilian economic growth. From a “mere” importer, the country has become a major food producer in recent years and has been consolidating itself as a lead in the international trade of products.
Embrapa’s Studies have already given a dimension to this: for every 10 dishes of food served in the world, 1 is from Brazil. It is also from agribusiness that many Brazilians make their living. According to data from the Brazilian National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), 32.3% (30.5 million) of the total of 94.4 million Brazilian workers were from agribusiness in 2015 – in other words, 1 out of every 3 Brazilians are involved in agribusiness-related activities.
Other numbers prove why the sector is so strategic for the country. Agribusiness represents 48% of all national exports and 26.6% of the total Brazilian GDP. The forecast was to close 2021 with an even more expressive participation in the GDP, above 30%, according to the edition 92 of Forbes Magazine. Given this scenario, it is increasingly evident that agribusiness has conquered new markets and expanded its sales to the world.
The challenges turned into opportunities to supply Brazil and the world with more food. But neither can we turn a blind eye to the fact that frank growth requires companies to reinvent, disrupt and break paradigms.
We invited our specialist in poultry production, the veterinarian Paulo Martins, to comment on the 5 main points that should mark the year 2022 in poultry production. And, of course, how companies should prepare to ride this wave of optimism.
2022 should be a very good year — and with more exports!
If the perspective for agribusiness in general is positive for 2022, it could not be different for the animal protein sector. After Operation Carne Fraca, the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges, the sector organized itself very well to recover credibility and exports — and it has been succeeding.
Although the data for 2021 is not consolidated, the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) projects a growth of 6% in the production of pork, 3.5% of chicken and 2% of eggs for the current year.
The percentage is even higher when it is about export volumes: 11% of pork and 9% of chicken. That’s because Russia has enabled more Brazilian plants for export, with certification of the entire chain (from the grain to the slaughterhouse), exports to China broke new records, and Chile is now the second largest buyer of beef in Brazil — paying more than China.
In an interview to the Canal Rural, ABPA’s chairman, Ricardo Santin, said that the sector’s expectations are positive, with an increase in exports and supply on the domestic market. And the organization works to open up new markets such as Canada, Mexico and Europe, for example.
“Animal protein industries frequently undergo audits — some more than once a week — which places us at the level of excellence in animal protein. Both for the product that goes to the foreign market and for what remains on the domestic market”, says Paulo Martins.
In the case of the egg sector, protein consumption should also break a record in 2021 and reach 255 units per capita. Brazil will have produced 54.503 billion eggs: 1,700 per second.
Poultry production, in fact, is going to lead the growth of the world meat industry during the next year. This is what the report on the animal protein sector evolution for 2022, published by Rabobank, points out. The levers are the increase in consumption and exports. And Brazil has everything to shine in this scenario.
The most privileged position of Brazil
Brazil is in a very privileged position because of its geography and climate: agriculture and the animal protein sector are adapted to tropical regions. Only 4% of Brazilian agricultural production uses an irrigation system — the other 96% comes from the natural rainfall regime.
There is an exception in some Brazilian regions, such as the Northeast, which still concentrates very arid regions. Even so, it is different from what happens, for example, in the Netherlands, where 70% of agribusiness is supplied with an irrigation system. And there is still perspective for improvement in the Northeast with the irrigation channels originating from the São Francisco River deviation.
“Brazil has year-round sunshine, just look at the world map. It is impossible not to be optimistic about the projection of agribusiness in the medium term”, says Paulo Martins. And the Country still has a privileged status for being free from the main poultry diseases: this is the passport for the more than 160 countries that buy Brazilian chicken meat and for the quality of eggs.
Higher costs (everywhere)
One of the “however” in this optimistic scenario are the costs of grains and raw materials, which obviously require attention. According to the Isto É Dinheiro’s reporting, feed production in Brazil should close 2021 with an advance of 4.5% and reach the mark of 85 million tons.
The growth comes with the meat sector, notably the poultry and pork industry, whose demand for grains is expected to continue growing in 2022. Accounting may result in an increase of 6%, 4% and up to 1.5% in the production of feed for pigs, broilers and laying hens, respectively.
However, it was not only the production that increased. The animal feed industry saw items such as vitamins, enzymes and amino acids soar in price, in addition to the shipping of imports, which has been directly reflecting the rise in grains. It is a trend for 2022 — and a point of attention — but it is not a competitive disadvantage solely for Brazil, nor something to be analyzed in isolation.
If the price goes up here, the same happens around the world. And this difficulty can sharpen creativity for alternatives that make it possible to meet the demand for these ingredients, such as looking for winter cereals, which represent an increase in enzymes and better digestibility, and also for a better use of nutrients.
Redoubled attention to health — and especially to avian influenza
As Ricardo Santin, ABPA chairman (Brazilian Association of Animal Protein) said, if the “cost hurts, health kills”. Taking care of the flocks´ biosecurity and health are essential conditions for the continuity of the activity and for diseases such as avian influenza not to take hold in Brazil — because, if that happens, the entire foreign market will close.
Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that resulted in the sacrifice of more than 390,000 birds from North Korea in 2020, restricted imports from the United States, Australia and Japan, had cases reported in countries in Europe and South America.
These are signs that point out to the importance of constant health surveillance. Avian influenza is not a problem that arises on farms and companies; it originates from wild intercontinental migratory birds, considered reservoirs of the virus in nature, and which come to South America once a year to escape the Northern hemisphere winter. As Brazil receives these birds annually, the concern has to be real.
More recently, to get an idea, starling birds, considered pests of European and Asian origin, arrived in South America and the Brazilian South region and have already spread to several cities. It is an unprecedented move and that requires even more studies and sanitary control.
Paulo Martins reinforces that measures taken by MAPA are essential in order to collect samples for laboratory analysis and check the presence of influenza viruses in these birds. If it is high, it lights up a yellow light, because they can contaminate Brazilian local birds or even reach a commercial farm. “At first, nothing might happen because the virus, most of the time, is of low pathogenicity. However, if this pathogen remains circulating within free range flocks, it gains virulence until it causes the onset of mortality in the bird flocks. It can take weeks or even months to happen, so we have to do at least “the homework”, which is the serological monitoring in the slaughter of all long-lived, laying and breeding poultry flocks”, explains the technical and commercial director of Biocamp.
Broiler chickens have a shorter life span, are slaughtered younger and, therefore, there is less time for viral circulation and increased pathogenicity of the agent.
Biosecurity and animal welfare
Brazil currently has control over the main poultry diseases that compromise the production and export of chicken meat, such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease. However, in order to maintain this worldwide status in the production and export of chicken meat, it is important that there is biosecurity in all the links in the production chain. Surveillance has to be constant so that these diseases do not enter the poultry flocks.
Seven main factors must be seen as investments and applied as biosecurity measures to broilers and commercial layer hens. Thinking on animal welfare is also another point of attention; even it has never been as high as it has been lately and it is certainly one of the trends for 2022.
Sustainability is the watchword
In a IBM Institute for Business Value’s survey, nearly half of the 14,000 consumers in nine countries — including Brazil — said they consider environmental sustainability for their investment portfolios. A fifth of people said they are likely to invest in sustainable businesses in the future.
It shows how sustainability is the new watchword for business — and will continue to be so in 2022 and beyond. It has become imperative for food producing companies to focus on sustainable actions to position themselves in an increasingly demanding market. And the use of eubiotics (prebiotics, probiotics, phytobiotics, essential oils and organic acids) enters this list.
Biocamp experiences sustainable animal production naturally. We started our work more than two decades ago with a focus on products that ensure the animal, human and environmental health maintenance: the One Health triad. Here, we foster the integrity and promotion of animal health when developing vaccines and probiotics.
Technology always on the rise and essential
The increase in technological solutions appears in 2022, more than ever, as a rule to meet market demand, provide the consumer with as much information about the origin of products as possible and optimize processes. But not only. The technology is also coming together to meet this precision nutrition, mitigate the high cost of raw materials and reduce waste.
Working with non-linear formulation models, providing themselves with data and relying on the predictability of mathematical models, farms and companies are able to leave empiricism and make more assertive, quick and immediate decisions. In all spheres: regarding the best mix of products, logistics and even which infrastructure needs more investment at that time.
More and more real-time data and less feeling are needed to improve animal welfare, expand biosecurity measures and the use of technologies that focus on improving productivity gains.
Therefore, we will be able to have a more qualified production, more — and better — customers, investment in a qualified and capable team. As complex as the last few years have been due to the pandemic, there was an increase in production, food supply in the domestic and export markets.
Hopefully in 2022 we can have even more food safety and continue working towards it. Biocamp, for a more pro world!