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Brazil chicken exports slump as EU bans weigh

SAO PAULO, June 21 (Reuters) - Brazilian chicken exports fell by 8.5 percent in the five months through May as the world's largest exporter was hit by trade embargoes imposed by the European Union following a food-sector corruption investigation, trade group ABPA said on Thursday.

The volume of exported chicken in the period was 1.6 million tonnes, down from 1.75 million in the same period of 2017.

ABPA said export revenue fell 12.3 percent to $2.6 billion, in tandem with volumes over the period.

Shipments to the European Union fell the most, by 40 percent, ABPA said. Brazil sold 92,500 tonnes to the EU in the period, down from 151,800 tonnes.

The European Union in April suspended imports of Brazilian meat products, mostly poultry, a decision affecting 20 plants in the South American nation, 12 of which operated by BRF SA .

The Brazilian government had pre-emptively halted exports from nine chicken processing plants.

Brussels linked the EU ban to "deficiencies detected in the Brazilian official control system" after a probe of local food companies and health officials found they colluded to evade quality and safety checks.

In May alone, there was a 4.7 percent drop in chicken volumes shipped out of Brazil, to 333,200 tonnes.

ABPA said export volumes could drop further after an 11-day truckers strike last month crippled Brazil's roads and severely disrupted the flow of goods to local markets and ports.

The effects of the strike will be reflected in June export figures, ABPA said. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Dan Grebler)