May 11, 2020 / 2:29 PM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's BRF says COVID-19 outbreaks may disrupt operations at some of its plants

(Adds details from conference call and earnings release, share move)

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, May 11 (Reuters) - Outbreaks of the COVID-19 respiratory disease in different regions of Brazil could disrupt operations at the country’s largest chicken processor, a BRF SA executive said on Monday.

During a presentation to discuss first-quarter results, BRF Chief Executive Lorival Luz noted that BRF sees a recession and new consumer trends amid the global pandemic affecting demand. The impact of the health crisis on the company’s sales will be more evident in second-quarter results, he said.

With the escalation of the public health crisis in Brazil, where most of BRF’s plants are, worker absenteeism and potential orders from health authorities to close meat plants constitute threats.

As BRF anticipated these problems, it some weeks ago hired additional workers to keep operations as close to normal as possible, Luz said.

In April, BRF said it would hire an additional 2,000 people both in-house and outsourced.

BRF reduced its net loss in the first quarter to 38 million reais ($6.63 million), compared with a loss of 1 billion reais in the same period last year, citing a rise in sales in terms of volumes and value.

Its shares rose more than 5% at the start of trading in São Paulo on strong-first quarter results. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler)

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