Two of Brazil’s largest meat processors, Aurora Alimentos and BRF, secured approval to export from one plant each in Santa Catarina. Privately owned Pamplona was the third company cleared by South Korean officials.
Reaching an agreement on sanitary certification is the final formality Brazil and South Korean authorities need to complete before pork can start its journey to the Asian market.
Rui Eduardo Saldanha Vargas, technical vice president of the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA), described the agreement as a “victory” for the country’s pork industry.
ABPA president Francisco Turra called the agreement “good news”, described South Korea as “one of the most important global markets” and said he had “very positive expectations” for pork trade in 2018.
Negotiations between the two countries have been under way for several years and, at one stage, looked at risk as Brazil was plunged into chaos amid the rotten meat scandal.
However, following rigorous checks, South Korea's Sanitary Inspection and Quarantine Agency (QIA) approved the three plants in Santa Catarina.
This state was chosen because it is the only one in Brazil recognised by the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) as being free from foot-and-mouth disease vaccination.
Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture has a plan in place to phase out foot-and-mouth disease vaccination in the country, which could allow other states to obtain similar export certification in the future.
Brazil is the world’s fourth-biggest pork exporter and Ricardo Santin, vice-president of ABPA, said sales in South Korea should increase quickly now that access has been secured. Expanding sales in the country should help to diversify Brazilian pork imports – a long-term ambition of ABPA.
South Korea imported over 470,000 tonnes of pork from 17 countries in the 12 months to April 2017, according to World Trade Stats data. The US and Germany supply the most pork to South Korea, but Spain, Canada and Chile are also prominent trade partners.
With Brazilian pork soon to flow into South Korea, producers in the EU and North America could see their position in the market tested.