Brazilian exports hit by meat scandal

The volume of meat exports from Brazil has fallen in the wake of the meat scandal that hit the country in March.

Exports from Brazil fell by 3% in March and by 16% in April, following positive movements in export volumes during the first two months of the year.

The Brazilian meat scandal erupted in March when an investigation uncovered tainted meat, bribery and other malpractice in the multi-billion dollar meat industry. Some of the biggest meat exporting companies in the world were accused of various unhygienic practices, including use of illegal acid and carcinogenic chemicals to treat products. Brazilian police announced they were investigating 21 beef, pork, and chicken processing plants.

The corruption involved the export of meat unfit for human consumption and it led to the temporary closure of a number of key markets to Brazilian meat products, most notably China and Hong Kong. Brazilian pork competes with the UK on the important Chinese market, so developments here can impact on our own export prospects, AHDB Pork analyst Bethan Wilkins said.

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In March, shipments of Brazilian pork to China and Hong Kong were back 24% and 27% on the year respectively. This reflects the period of around a week when a total ban on imported Brazilian meat was enforced. Following updated information from Brazilian authorities, some countries that had enforced a ban, including China, relinquished the restrictions. Other destinations, including Hong Kong, kept restrictions on plants that were under investigation.

Despite the majority of restrictions being lifted, Brazilian pork exports took a big dip in year April, with the 16% decline driven largely by substantial declines in shipments to Hong Kong (41%) and China (59%).

“This may be due to importers switching to alternative suppliers both during and beyond the ban. Despite these difficulties, shipments to Brazil’s primary pork export market, Russia, which did not impose any restrictions, have continued to increase,” Ms Wilkins said.

“Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see whether the scandal will have a lingering impact on the reputation of Brazilian meat on the export market and further depress trade flows.”

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About The Author

Editor of Pig World and contributor to LBM’s other farming publications. Also National Pig Association webmaster. Formerly political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years. Enjoy a bit of media punditry. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm. Work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Under-9 football coach and big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.