As per a Goldman Sachs report, bird flu may reduce world energy demand should it evolve into a form that is easily transmitted among humans, possibly by more than 1-million barrels a day.
World oil use is about 85-million barrels a day, according to data issued by the US Energy Information Administration. "Should the flu mutate into a true global pandemic, the economic implications would be profound, potentially reducing energy demand by well over 1-million barrels per day," the US investment bank said.
Goldman Sachs noted that the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 had led to a sharp reduction in civilian airline schedules in Asia as demand for tourist and business travel declined.
Goldman Sachs did not expect bird flu to have any significant impact on demand for precious or industrial metals unless it developed into a global pandemic and damaged world economic activity. "In that case, metals prices would likely suffer, while gold could benefit from its safe-haven status in times of uncertainty," the report said.
The report said that the impact on grain consumption from a fall in demand for poultry products would be offset by increased buying of other meats. The report also noted that beef is required three times as much feed per pound of meat and pork twice as much as chicken.
"We believe that the net impact of Asian avian influenza on grain demand is likely to be very modest. While feed consumption of poultry is likely to decline, increased demand for meat...such as beef and pork will probably offset the lower demand from poultry."
"In addition, people in affected countries may also switch from local to imported poultry products, in which case, the decline in demand for feed by the local poultry industry may be offset by the increase in demand for feed abroad," the report said.
The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has so far led to the slaughter of millions of birds in Asia and has killed more than 60 people in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia.