The webinar “How Covid-19 is changing the poultry production and supply chain” took place a week ago, sponsored by Evonik, a leading supplier of feed additives for poultry feed, and presented by WATT Global Media, WATTAgNet, and

The meeting covered various topics related to the effects of the current pandemic on the global poultry industry, as well as potential solutions to reduce future risks. Suppliers from the poultry industry have played a relevant role in mitigating some of the negative effects of Covid-19 on the global poultry and agri-food industries.

The speakers were Paul Aho, international poultry economist from Poultry Perspective, and Martin Toscano, Chairman of the Board of Evonik Industries Mexico.

How Covid-19 has affected the global poultry supply chain

The pandemic has posed challenges throughout the entire food value chain, but industries have found ways to minimize the risks. There have been changes in the supply chain, from the feed mill to the production and consumption of poultry.

Paul Aho said he expects global meat consumption to decline as incomes fall during the recession caused by the pandemic. “There tends to be a strong correlation between income and meat consumption. Because meat is, after all, a luxury for most of the world,” he said.

In 2019, the average per capita consumption of chicken was 12.1 kg. That figure is expected to drop to 11.6 kg in 2021.

“I would be surprised if meat consumption did not drop as it has during previous recessions,” he said. “I would expect a drop in per capita consumption during the pandemic period. And when the pandemic comes to an end, I would expect a strong rebound in both income and total meat consumption,” he added.

However, Aho said the Covid-19 pandemic, along with the effects of the African swine fever (ASF), have allowed chicken to “quietly become the king of meat” worldwide, overtaking pork for the first time.

“Because of ASF and Covid-19, pork production has been reduced significantly, but chicken has overtaken or will overtake pork this year to become the king of meat,” he insisted, adding that he expects this trend to continue in the following years.

Ways to minimize risks throughout the supply chain

 “Supply chain management is key for the success of the poultry industry,” said Aho. The pandemic aggravated its global challenges, including transportation, labor, supply, and trade. The economist highlighted some strategies to minimize those risks, which include:

  • Creating alternative supply sources instead of relying on a single source, country, or region.
  • Optimizing production capacity.
  • Accelerating technological developments.
  • Moving away from just-in-time production.

Implications for the food value chain

 During his presentation, Martín Toscano, Chairman of the Board of Evonik Industries Mexico, stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of companies in charge of the food supply chain and has underscored their sense of responsibility to the world.

“Covid-19 is showing the implications of industry systems, processes, and people,” he said. “Significant efforts have been made to protect supply, manufacturing, and delivery chains. The industry is showing a great sense of responsibility by involving suppliers and partners who share the same strong mindset,” said the expert.

Animal feed factories have faced numerous challenges, but in the United States in particular, the industry has proven to be well prepared to continue supplying feed producers as an essential business, Toscano stated.

“The US industry is well prepared for the challenges we are now facing,” he said. “Mainly and particularly, there are biosecurity measures in place at feed manufacturing facilities across the country. The industry took steps immediately to ensure policies and guidelines at its facilities that would not only protect the health of workers as a number one priority, but also ensure they could continue to supply feed,” he said.[:]