Bird flu is back, and this time, it’s hitting the poultry industry hard. Through the risk mitigation process, millions of chickens, geese, duck and turkeys have been culled in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, leaving grocery stores, retailers and restaurants scrambling to find alternative suppliers and stock to ensure they can still feed the masses their traditional festive fare.

Supply chain, procurement and technical managers are struggling to keep up with demand as the outbreak continues to cause disruptions throughout the UK and around the world. In this article, we will explore the current bird flu outbreak, review how companies are responding and explain how supply chain risk management software can help to manage outbreaks like this more effectively, so your product or service is not severely impacted in the long term.

What are the risks of bird flu outbreaks?

The bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a virus that primarily affects birds, however, it can also infect humans and other mammals.

There are many different strains of bird flu virus, most of which don’t infect humans, but there are 4 strains that have caused concern in recent years. The UK government has published the following information on bird flu (avian influenza): how to spot it and report it.

In recent weeks the UK government has also increased the restrictions for the UK poultry industry, announcing on the 7th of November, that all poultry and captive birds in England must be kept indoors under new restrictions to fight avian flu. The housing order comes after turkey farmers warned of a shortage in the supply network this Christmas, caused by the country’s largest-ever bird flu outbreak.

“We are now facing this year, the largest ever outbreak of bird flu and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England,” said Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss.

This is not a UK-only problem, with producers across Europe also affected. Current estimates are that 47.7 million birds have been culled to reduce the spread of the disease since last autumn and many more thousands of wild birds have died. More than 100,000 ducks were reportedly culled at farms in the UK earlier this year during previous outbreaks of bird flu too.

What bird flu due diligence can businesses do?

Companies are struggling to keep up with demand as the bird flu outbreak continues to cause disruptions throughout supply chains. Many grocery stores and restaurants have had to find alternative sources for their poultry products, while some have even had to cancel Christmas turkey orders altogether. Ultimately, this is not economically sustainable for suppliers or retailers.

Bird flu outbreaks can be difficult to manage, but there are risk management steps businesses can take to minimise the potential impact and disruption. Authenticate’s supply chain mapping, location report, and audit solutions can help businesses identify and assess different types of risk throughout supply chains. The Authenticate platform also enables organisations to schedule audits with third-party providers and report assessment results in a secure, central environment.

Is your business looking to improve the management of outbreaks in its supply chains? Do you have plans to accelerate animal welfare standards progress? Join other businesses, such as Coles and Premier Foods, using Authenticate to drive process efficiencies and manage supply chain risk.

Supply chain transparency relies on a constant culture of improvement internally and throughout supply chains. The demand for transparency is growing and is unlikely to stop. Are you ready to increase visibility with our collaborative, transparent platform? Get in touch with the Authenticate team for more information and support.

For more information on the Authenticate platform or to discuss your challenges and requirements, get in touch with the team.