The Sars outbreak in Asia has had far-reaching implications for a number of industries. China, one of the worst-hit countries, has seen a sharp decline in the export of many goods and products.
Sars originated in southern China, the mainland's chicken-farming hub. As a result, poulty exports have been particularly badly hit.Major poultry-importing countries such as Japan are now looking to other sources of chicken meat.
The chairman of the Food Processing Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industry told Thai newspaper The Nation:"Because of wide speculation that the Sars epidemic could have an effect on domestic chicken farms in China, Japan's chicken meat orders [from China] have been inactive during the first and the second quarters."
As a consequence, countries such as Thailand have found themselves well-placed to benefit from concerned Japanese consumers who continue to shun the Chinese market.
Indeed, the president of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association Anan Sirimongkolkasem claimed that the outbreak of Sars in China had resulted in the price of exported Thai chicken increasing from US$1,800 (€1,5667) to $2,300 per ton.
He added that Thai chicken exports were expected to rise to 480,000 tons for the year, an increase of 20,000 tons on the previous estimate.
Japan appears to have an insatiable appetite for chicken. It is now the world's second-largest importer of chicken meat, with a total volume of 750,000 tons last year.
The country's chicken consumption increased from 156 million tons in 2001 to 174 million tons last year.
Thailand's major chicken-meat exporters include Saha Farm, GFPT Public, Laemthong Poultry, Golden Foods International, Central Poultry Processing and Sunek Food.