Thai food exporter Charoen Pokphand Foods has posted a first-quarter net loss due to lower chicken prices and exports caused by tough European safety rules, a result that surprised analysts.

CP Foods reported a net loss of 826m baht (US$19.6m), compared with a 761m baht net profit in the year-ago period. Analysts had forecast a net profit of 150-180m baht.

The company said the main reason for the loss was the decline in domestic meat prices, especially chicken prices which dropped 34% year-on-year.

The company’s chicken business was also hit when the EU imposed tougher checks for banned antibiotics.

Thai chicken exports to Europe fell 12.4% to 130,086 tonnes last year, reported Reuters.

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Rival Thai chicken exporter GFPT posted a first-quarter net loss of 119m baht, compared with a year-earlier profit of 255m baht.