By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian food processors are poised to boost pork and chicken exports in 2020 as Chinese demand for imports remains strong while the Asian country deals with severe disruptions in local production, an industry group said on Thursday.

While an outbreak of African swine fever affects solely pork supplies in China and other Asian countries, a fall in production of that type of meat will drive demand for other products including chicken, said ABPA, which represents pork and poultry producers.

ABPA forecasts Brazil’s 2020 pork exports may grow by at least 15% next year to 850,000 tonnes. This year exports are estimated to have jumped 14.5% to a projected 740,000 tonnes driven by sales to China, Hong Kong and rising shipments to Russia, Chile and Vietnam.

Projected Brazilian chicken exports could grow to as much as 4.5 million tonnes next year, a 7% rise from the upper range of 2019 export projections of 4.2 million tonnes, ABPA said.

The potential rise of Brazil’s meat trade underscores the lasting effects of the sanitary problem in China, which is the world’s largest producer of pork with annual output of about 54 million tonnes.

Ricardo Santin, who will preside over ABPA from April 2020, said sales to China and expectations that Mexico will eventually renew Brazil’s chicken import quota will bolster chicken trade in 2020.

He also said companies and the government are coordinating efforts to increase chicken exports to India, which bought its first consignment from Brazil this year.

Talks aimed at reducing Indian meat import tariffs and expediting issuance of import licenses should kick off in January during a state visit of Brazilian government officials to India, Santin said.

Brazilian chicken cuts pay a 100% import tariff and whole chickens a 30% levy to enter India. Pork imports from Brazil are authorized but has yet to commence, Santin noted referring to India.

The deadly pig disease in China has reduced domestic pork production by an estimated 13 million tonnes in 2019, affecting global supplies and trade in all proteins, according to ABPA.

The Asian nation will need around five years to restore internal pork supplies after the outbreak of the disease, which is harmless to humans but fatal to the animals, ABPA said.

Between January and November, Brazil increased pork exports to China by 51% to 218,000 tonnes, according to ABPA data. Chicken exports to China rose by 28% to 513,000 tonnes over the period, it said.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Lisa Shumaker)