Brazil standing by export hope as meat scandal cools

By Oscar Rousseau & Kakie Roubaud

- Last updated on GMT

Brazil's beef industry is adamant that the meat scandal won't hurt export growth
Brazil's beef industry is adamant that the meat scandal won't hurt export growth

Related tags: International trade

The rotten meat scandal that rocked Brazil has not dented the country’s ambitious sales drive, according to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC).

A spokesperson for the association told this site ABIEC maintains Brazilian beef exports will increase, despite these projections being made before the meat scandal that sent shock waves through the animal protein industry.

ABIEC is analysing the numbers, but at the outset they will keep the forecast,​” the spokesperson said.

Just weeks before the scandal broke, ABIEC president Antônio Jorge Camardelli was in bullish mood, stating: “Our export forecasts for 2017 are US$5.5 billion to US$6bn.​” This would represent a year-on-year rise of 9% in value and 11% in volume.

Corruption and bribery
Brazil was exporting beef to 129 countries two years ago. Last year, it had access to 133 countries and ABIEC expects to reach 184 countries this year.

This comes despite the revelations that have come to surface.

Nearly a fortnight ago, Brazil’s federal police launched the biggest investigation in its history​. They alleged 21 factories bribed federal meat inspectors to ignore adulterated meat. Brazil’s government quickly suspended 33 government officials, closed three meat plants and launched an investigation into the allegations.

Asia key to growth

The global market responded too. Brazil found itself locked out of key markets​. Tireless work from the government, however, has seen export bans lifted by some of Brazil’s main trading partners, including China​, Chile, Egypt and Hong Kong​. The faith quickly shown in the country’s sanitary control systems may suggest the worst of the meat scandal is over.

With top markets in Asia among those to lift bans, one can see why ABIEC is confident about growth prospects.

In January 2016, China imported 18,000 tonnes (t) of Brazilian beef, a fifth more than in December and higher than its average buys of between 10,000t to 15,000t. This netted exporters US$75m. Brazil’s beef trade with Hong Kong in January was also strong, with value rising by 4% compared with December 2016 to US$97m.

With Brazil’s economy showing signs of lifting itself out of recession, according to Camardelli, consumption at home could increase as well.

With both domestic and international consumption predicted to increase this year, Brazil’s beef industry is adamant export growth remains absolutely on the cards.

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