BRAZILIAN beef exports closed 2018 with record exports totalling 1.64 million tonnes, an 11 percent increase in volume and 8pc in value compared to 2017, according to data from the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association.
The tonnage is easily the largest ever exported in a calendar year by a single beef nation, and reflects the resurgent state of Brazil’s beef industry, despite recent regulatory, market access and logistical headwinds.
In revenue terms, Brazil’s total value of exports last year reached US$ 6.57 billion, an 8pc increase compared to the 2017 result.
The all-time high in exports showed the recognition in relation to the quality of Brazilian beef in international markets, the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC) said in a statement.
“The good outcomes are the result of work to improve all stages of the production process, which allows us to comply with the most demanding international rules for a quality and competitive beef,” ABIEC president, Antônio Jorge Camardelli said.
The best results were recorded in the second half of the year, with September shipments totalling 178,000t, generating revenue of US$700 million. The result represented a 32pc increase in volume and 26pc in revenue compared to the same period last year.
Main customers last year were Hong Kong (often used for grey trade into China) and China itself. In volume, Hong Kong took almost 395,000t, representing 24pc of total trade. China, on the other hand, was the main destination by value at US$1.49 billion, representing 22.6pc of the total.
Brazil’s exports to China – the world’s fastest growing market for beef thanks to an expanding middle class that can afford more protein – have almost tripled since 2014.
That created an alternative route for Brazilian supplies that aren’t allowed in some of the world’s largest markets including Japan and the US because of sanitary restrictions. The US banned Brazilian beef in July 2017, following a series of scandals over food safety and meat inspection.
Other prominent export markets for Brazil last year included the European Union (118,000t), Chile (115,000t) and the United Arab Emirates, with an increase both in volume and revenue compared with 2017.
Exports to the US (made up entirely of cooked beef, to eliminate FMD risk – used mostly in canned and processed food items like Stagg chili) reached 32,000t, down 16pc on the previous year.
Several major international meat markets re-opened up trade for Brazilian beef during 2018. Saudi Arabia, Brazil’s largest destination for red and white meat proteins, agreed to an import deal for its bovine and genetic materials, while Russia also resumed imports of Brazilian beef and pork following its closure in December 2017.
Brazil expects beef exports to climb by 11pc in 2019 to a record 1.8mt, also boosted by the resumption of exports to Russia after a year-long ban and the likely opening of new markets including Indonesia, ABIEC said. Export revenue is also expected to increase by 11pc to $7.26 billion, also an all-time-high.