SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Boehringer Ingelheim’s animal health division in Brazil is bracing for slower growth as the COVID-19 pandemic has dented demand for veterinary medical products in the world’s largest chicken and beef exporter, an executive said on Tuesday.
Brazil’s animal health market expanded by almost 10% last year, almost double the global rate, according to Fabio Barone, head of the German company’s animal health business in Brazil.
But there are signs that growth will slow.
“Brazil’s market will continue to expand but not at the same rate,” Barone told Reuters in an interview.
“It is still good news: slower but still growing,” he added, declining to give a precise growth forecast.
As people shelter at home to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, consumers are going to pet shops less frequently which means fewer sales of pet products, including veterinary health products, Barone said.
But prospects are good for sales to livestock farmers, as Brazil remains a major global meat producer and supplier, he said.
“From a meat exporter’s perspective, there are great opportunities,” he said.
The pet market accounts for 40% of sales at Boehringer’s Brazil animal health division and the livestock market 60%.
Globally, Boehringer has sales of about 20 billion euros, with the firm’s animal health division accounting for 21%, Barone said.
The executive declined to discuss how big Brazil’s veterinary product sales were compared to other countries, but noted the South American country is one of its “ten biggest markets.”
Boehringer makes products like vaccines and anti-parasitic medicines in the town of Paulínia, São Paulo state, where it employs around 500 people, Barone said.
There have been no disruptions at the plant due to COVID-19, nor have there been any breakdowns in the supply chain, he said.
Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall