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Meatpacker JBS flags export logistics issues amid coronavirus

Credit: REUTERS/PAULO WHITAKER

Brazil's JBS SA, the world's largest meatpacker, has said the corona virus epidemic could cause container shortages and port disruptions and other logistics issues, but said exports should stay strong thanks to Chinese demand.

Adds new details from conference call

SAO PAULO, March 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's JBS SA JBSS3.SA, the world's largest meatpacker, has said the corona virus epidemic could cause container shortages and port disruptions and other logistics issues, but said exports should stay strong thanks to Chinese demand.

In a conference call to discuss earnings results on Thursday, JBS executives said its export operations had not been hit by any disruptions like those that have affected frozen container cargos arriving in China in recent weeks.

They said the company is banking on its long-term relationships with shipping providers to keep exports flowing.

JBS CEO Gilberto Tomazoni said it is too early to gauge the full impact of coronavirus on food sales, but noted market fundamentals have not changed, citing meat demand from Asia after a swine fever disrupted local supplies.

He said the company is not cutting investment plans and the priority is to continue to produce food and keep jobs.

JBS predicted its United States plants will supply 30% of China's pork import needs in 2020, with the company's local operations benefiting from U.S. trade agreements with countries like Japan and South Korea to increase exports.

On Wednesday JBS reported its fourth-quarter net profit soared 332% over the prior-year period, thanks to a surge in sales to China, which increased food imports dramatically after the outbreak of swine fever that killed about half of its pig herds.

Fourth-quarter net profit totaled 2.43 billion reais ($482.5 million).

(Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

((ana.mano@thomsonreuters.com; Tel: +55-11-5644-7704; Mob: +55-119-4470-4529; Reuters Messaging: ana.mano.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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