Japanese officials approved pork from Brazil’s only foot-and-mouth (FND) free state, Santa Catarina, in a risk assessment carried out by the animal health committee of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF) in Tokyo on 27 August.
The first draft of the International Health Certificate (CSI) - issued by Brazil to guarantee that pork exports meet the animal health demands made by Japan during the approval process - was presented to authorities in Japan by Brazil’s animal and plant protection secretary, Enio Marques, and Celio Porto, secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply.
Once the CSI has been accepted, Japanese authorities will approve a list of slaughterhouses that meet its hygiene requirements and exports will commence. Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture said that a MAFF representative had promised that an effort would be made to complete the process within 60 days, and that a Japanese ministerial mission would visit Brazil in November or early December to approve the first shipments.
The president of the Brazilian Association of Pork Producers and Exporters (Abipecs), Pedro de Camargo Neto, said that achieving risk assessment approval was the most “difficult” step in the process, and that he expected the rest of the steps to be resolved “very quickly”.
Access to Japan would provide a welcome big boost to Brazil’s pig industry, which has been struggling in the face of high production costs and recent trade restrictions in key markets such as Argentina and Russia.
“The opening of the Japanese market will significantly alter the future of the pig industry in Brazil. Japan is the [world’s] largest importer of pork,” said Camargo Neto.
Abipec predicts that by 2013, Brazil could be supplying 15% of Japan’s pork imports, which it said would represent a “significant” proportion of Brazilian production. Brazil is currently the largest exporter of fresh and frozen poultry meat to Japan, with almost 90% of the market.
Brazil has been working towards access to the Japanese pork market since 2007, when Santa Catarina first achieved FMD-free status. Camargo Neto said that negotiations were slowed by an outbreak of FMD in Japan’s Miyasaki region in April 2010, as well as natural disasters such as the tsunami and nuclear accident in March 2011.