By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian meat processor JBS SA said its Seara processed foods unit will start selling chicken products to India, as the group explores new markets in a year when poultry is poised to become the most demanded meat protein in the world.
In a statement sent to Reuters on Thursday, JBS said Seara became the first company in Brazil authorized by India to sell chicken products in the Asian nation.
India's per capita chicken consumption is forecast to increase to 2.23 kilos in 2019, up from 2.18 kilos in the previous year, as personal income rise, according data from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
JBS's first shipment of chicken thighs and leg quarters to India is scheduled for the next few weeks, the company said, declining to disclose the volumes involved for strategic reasons.
The first consignment will arrive at the port of Jawaharlal Nehru, and the distribution to be made by an unnamed local firm, the statement added.
Poultry is likely to become the most consumed meat protein globally in 2019, as an outbreak of African swine fever in China is reshaping the international meat landscape, according to U.S. based International Poultry Council.
As a result of the spread of the disease, which is deadly for hogs but not for humans, the world will be unable to fill the supply gap in meat proteins, Christine McCracken, senior protein analyst at Rabobank, was quoted as saying in a statement from the IPC.
As a result, prices for all types of meats will rise, she said.
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)