Tyson Foods believes it will not see profits slip into “negative territory” on the back of falling worldwide demand for chicken sparked by fears over bird flu. However, the company also said that it believed demand for chicken was starting to pick up again.

The company’s CEO John Tyson speaking at the Stephens Inc. 2006 Consumer Conference in New York said: “We believe our strategy will allow us maybe to stay out of the negative territory.”

A Reuters report quoted Tyson, adding that large US inventories of exportable poultry thighs and leg quarters were being used as pet food.

However, he also said demand for chicken seemed to be improving. He picked out a media campaign in Russia aimed at educating consumers about bird flu as an example of the positive action being taken.