USA, Chicago. Ships carrying refrigerated cargo containers of chicken from the United States to China are being diverted to ports in Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a US poultry export trade group.
The virus, which is causing havoc in the global container shipping trade, is keeping consumers and workers at home in China, delaying purchases at stores and restaurants and slowing the unloading of products at ports. Chinese ports have run out of space for refrigerated containers, which must be plugged into electrical outlets once they are offloaded to keep frozen meat and other food products cold, Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, told Reuters.
Last week, Tyson Foods Chief Executive Noel White said the company is still shipping meat to China and has orders on its books, but the coronavirus, which has infected some 60,000 people mostly in China, has caused issues. Maryland-based Perdue Farms told Reuters that it does have orders on the books and is monitoring the ports situation. The economic squeeze to US chicken exporters could be significant, as companies can rack up storage fees on delayed shipments, Sumner said.