(Adds data, comments from ABPA official, context)
SAO PAULO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Brazil increased its poultry and pork exports this year and is expected to report higher volumes again in 2017, the meat processors' association ABPA said on Tuesday.
Brazil is expected to close out 2016 with a record 4.39 million tonnes of poultry exports versus 4.3 million tonnes last year, as higher Chinese demand boosted volumes. Pork shipments should reach 720,000 tonnes this year, compared with 555,000 tonnes in 2015, ABPA said.
Despite the increases, 2016 numbers should have been higher, the association said. It had previously projected an 8 percent increase in poultry shipments. This year's corn shortage was blamed for the smaller-than-expected performance.
"Some companies had to cut working shifts (due to lack of feed), a few closed down," ABPA's Francisco Turra told reporters in São Paulo.
Turra expects companies to recover under a more stable corn supply and counts on China to continue to boost Brazil's exports, particularly of poultry.
The Asian nation bought 451,000 tonnes of chicken from Brazil in the year through November, 63 percent more than in the same period the previous year.
ABPA believes that recent bird flu cases in parts of Europe could also favor Brazilian exports to some Asian markets that used to source from the region.
China, including Hong Kong, imported 235,000 tonnes of pork from Brazil in the year through November, compared with 113,000 tonnes in the same period in 2015.
The association is projecting an increase of 3 percent to 5 percent in poultry shipments next year. Pork exports are seen rising by up to 5 percent. (Reporting by Gustavo Bonato; Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Dan Grebler)