China's supply of poultry and egg products is likely to be hit in the second and third quarters as the coronavirus outbreak has had a severe impact on the industry, agriculture ministry official Yang Zhenhai told a State Council briefing on Tuesday.
The world's second-largest poultry producer, China had been ramping up output to fill a meat shortage after the African swine fever epidemic, which began in 2018, decimated its pig herd.
Poultry prices have plunged this year and restrictions on moving livestock and extended holidays in many areas have paralysed the supply chain. Farmers have been left with large inventories of birds and eggs even as demand plunged as restaurants and canteens stay shut.
Impact Of Coronavirus
Yang said that since the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to more than 1,800 deaths, live poultry markets have been closed, transportation of baby poultry and live poultry has been curtailed and slaughterhouses have been shut down.
He said one company had reported losses of more than 100 million yuan (€13.18 million), but did not give further details.
"The loss of the entire poultry industry would be very serious," Yang said.
China's agriculture and transport ministries have told local authorities to allow companies involved in feed-production and poultry-slaughtering to resume work as soon as possible and overcome disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, China's state planner has sold 1.32 million tonnes of corn to feed-processing firms in southern provinces to ensure their raw material supply.
China has approved the import of all poultry products from the United States including breeding birds, an official website said on Monday.
But containers of frozen chicken feet from the US have been caught up in the logistics logjam, with many diverted away from China because of a lack of capacity to store additional cargoes.