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Merial organizes avian forum to address Asia’s poultry production needs
With the fast growth of the Asian poultry sector, Merial, the animal division of SANOFI, recently organized a forum which will help the region’s poultry producers to provide safe, affordable and abundant poultry meat and eggs.
The first edition of the Merial’s Avian Forum in Asia brought together over 250 partners, distributors and staff from 20 countries, including the Philippines.  It underscores the company’s commitment as a proactive and active contributor – in terms of products, services and field expertise – at each step of the breeder, broiler and commercial layer value chain.
In his presentation, Nan-Dirk Mulder from Dutch-based Rabobank estimated that global demand for poultry will grow 60% between 2010 and 2030, while global demand for eggs will grow 48% in the same period.  With Asia accounting for 49% of the global population growth, it will drive 70% of global meat demand growth and 75% of global egg growth.  Mulder states that Asia is a vibrant region for poultry and eggs, especially in China, India and Indonesia, which hold nearly 3 billion consumers with fast rising incomes among them.
Supply challenges
Nevertheless, Mulder cautioned that despite the promising growth, producers will continue to be challenged by a variety of longstanding market issues.  These include volatility in feed and livestock prices, escalating consumer concerns about food and safety, animal welfare, buying local and environmental sustainability.
Another challenge that must be faced by poultry producers is animal health.  Academicians and a representative from Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative provided insights on the evolution, threats and challenges of tackling the most prevalent avian diseases including Avian Influenza (AI), Marek’s Disease (MD), and Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD).
The direct and indirect costs and economic impact of the diseases were discussed, using the H7N9 outbreak in China as an example.  Experts stressed that public-private partnership between government and industry stakeholders must play a key role in minimizing the impact of these diseases.  Dr. David Castellan from the FAO’s Thailand office concluded that vaccination can be an important part of eradication programme, when coupled with biosecurity measures.  Vaccination buys time before a comprehensive biosecurity plan is put in place.
New technology in vaccination
Jerome Baudon, Avian franchise Head of Global Strategic Marketing at Merial, shared the developments in vaccination technology, such as vector (recombitant) vaccine which provides life-long immunity and protection with a single shot at the hatchery.  Dr. Chris Fritts and Lim Chin Cheong, from the Merial Global and Asia Vaccination Technology, respectively, also shared that vaccination equipment is made available to Merial customers, suited to their local production methods, as well as the technical support and training provided.
Merial’s customers also shared their experience of using Merial’s recombitant vaccine against IBD and MD which provides full immunity in two weeks.  They include customers from China, Pakistan, Malaysia and the Philippines, who are successfully using the vaccine on different types of birds respectively, including the native slow-growing broilers.  The vaccine is now authorized in 73 countries worldwide and used in broilers, layers and breeders.
With the success of the initial Avian Forum, Harry Picard, head of Asia Global Strategic Marketing for the avian franchise assured that Merial will continue to stay close to the ground to understand the needs of poultry stakeholders, ensuring that the next forum’s topics will stay current and relevant.  He reiterated the company’s commitment in providing meaningful and relevant content based on the latest scientific findings.