The second wave of avian flu reaching Quebec could drive up the price of Christmas turkeys as it did in western Canada at Thanksgiving.
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“We believe that the second wave could affect poultry prices for the upcoming holidays,” says Sylvain Charlebois, professor and director of the Agri-Food Analytical Sciences Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
He estimates that the price of turkeys increased by 20% in Alberta and British Columbia for Thanksgiving this year, compared to 16% in the rest of the country, partly because of the H5N1 virus, which affected especially those provinces this year.
The virus is now resurfacing in Quebec, where a case was confirmed last week in a small poultry farm in the Saint-Jacques-Le-Mineur region, in Montérégie.
An outbreak is also suspected on a farm in the Drummondville region, indicates the president of the Poultry Breeders of Quebec, Pierre-Luc Leblanc.
Sylvain Charlebois, teacher
New outbreaks could have financial impacts for chicken and turkey producers in the province, worries Mr. Leblanc.
“When a farm is affected, you cannot have new bird entries in a three kilometer zone. It could leave farms without production and have incredible monetary impacts on breeders, ”he explains.
He recalls that the first wave of avian flu wreaked havoc in the spring, particularly in Saint-Gabriel de Valcartier, where 90,000 turkeys had to be euthanized.
In the end, the bill is passed on to consumers, argues Sylvain Charlebois.
“There are losses and there is a price adjustment accordingly. The quota system ensures that producers are well protected,” he explains.
“If we are not able to avoid what happened during the first wave, we risk seeing the scenario repeat itself”, underlines the expert in agri-food.