Beef Exporter in World, Brazil is the Top Beef Exporter

Beef Exporter in World, Brazil is the Top Beef Exporter

7 Reasons Why Brazil is the Top Beef Exporter in the World

Beef is one of the most consumed meats in the world, and Brazil is the largest exporter of this product. Learn why Brazil has such a competitive advantage in the global beef market.

Beef is a rich source of protein, iron, zinc and other nutrients that are essential for human health. It is also a versatile ingredient that can be prepared in many different ways, from steaks and burgers to stews and roasts. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global consumption of beef was about 69 million tons in 2020, and it is expected to increase by 1.4% annually until 2029.

But where does all this beef come from? And which country is the leader in exporting this product to the world? The answer is Brazil, which was the top beef exporter in 2020, followed by Australia, the United States, India and Argentina. Brazil exported about 2.6 million tons of beef in 2020, accounting for 19% of the global market share. In this article, we will explore seven reasons why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world, and what are the challenges and opportunities for this sector.

1. Brazil has a large cattle herd

One of the main factors that explain Brazil’s dominance in the beef export market is its large cattle herd, which is the second-largest in the world after India. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Brazil had about 214 million head of cattle in 2020, of which 55% were beef cattle and 45% were dairy cattle. The Brazilian cattle herd has grown by 42% since 2000, mainly due to improved genetics, nutrition and health management.

2. Brazil has favorable climatic conditions

Another reason why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world is its favorable climatic conditions, which allow for year-round grazing and pasture production. Brazil has a tropical and subtropical climate, with abundant rainfall and sunshine, which create ideal conditions for growing grasses and legumes that feed the cattle. Brazil also has a diverse range of biomes, from the Amazon rainforest to the Cerrado savanna and the Pampas grasslands, which offer different types of pastures and environments for cattle production.

3. Brazil has low production costs

A third reason why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world is its low production costs, which give it a competitive edge over other countries. According to a study by Rabobank, Brazil had the lowest cost of production per kilogram of carcass weight among major beef exporters in 2019, at $2.20 USD, compared to $2.77 USD for Australia, $3.12 USD for Argentina, $3.28 USD for India and $4.13 USD for the United States. The low production costs in Brazil are mainly due to the extensive use of pasture-based systems, which require less inputs such as feed, labor and capital than intensive systems.

4. Brazil has diversified export markets

A fourth reason why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world is its diversified export markets, which reduce its dependence on any single buyer and increase its resilience to market shocks. According to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC), Brazil exported beef to 152 countries in 2020, with China being its main destination, accounting for 43% of its exports. Other important markets for Brazilian beef include Hong Kong, Egypt, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Brazil also has free trade agreements with several countries and regions, such as Mercosur, Israel, Egypt and the European Union, which facilitate its access to these markets.

5. Brazil has high-quality beef products

A fifth reason why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world is its high-quality beef products, which meet the standards and preferences of different consumers around the world. Brazilian beef is known for its tenderness, juiciness and flavor, as well as its nutritional value and safety. Brazilian beef producers follow strict sanitary and traceability protocols to ensure that their products are free from diseases and contaminants. Brazilian beef also has a lower environmental impact than beef from other countries, as it emits less greenhouse gases per kilogram of meat produced.

6. Brazil has invested in innovation and technology

A sixth reason why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world is its investment in innovation and technology,
which have improved its productivity and efficiency in cattle production. Brazilian beef producers have adopted new technologies such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer, genetic improvement, animal identification, precision agriculture and digital platforms to optimize their performance and profitability. Brazilian research institutions such as Embrapa and universities have also contributed to the development and dissemination of new knowledge and solutions for the beef sector.

7. Brazil has a strong beef industry

A seventh reason why Brazil is the top beef exporter in the world is its strong beef industry, which comprises a network of actors and institutions that support and promote the sector. The Brazilian beef industry includes several segments, such as breeding, rearing, finishing, slaughtering, processing, distribution and marketing of beef products. The industry also has several associations and organizations that represent and defend the interests of beef producers and exporters, such as ABIEC, the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA), the National Association of Breeders and Exporters of Zebu Cattle (ABCZ) and the Brazilian Association of Angus (ABA).

Challenges and opportunities for the Brazilian beef sector

Despite its leading position in the global beef market, Brazil faces several challenges and opportunities for its future development.


  • Increasing the sustainability and social responsibility of beef production, by reducing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land conflicts associated with cattle ranching.
  • Improving the quality and traceability of beef products, by complying with the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of different markets, as well as the animal welfare and environmental standards of consumers.
  • Enhancing the value-added and differentiation of beef products, by developing new products and brands that cater to the specific needs and preferences of different segments and niches of consumers.
  • Expanding and diversifying export markets, by exploring new opportunities in regions such as Asia, Africa and Europe, as well as strengthening existing relationships with strategic partners such as China.
  • Increasing the competitiveness and innovation of beef production, by adopting new technologies and practices that improve productivity, efficiency and profitability.


  • Leveraging the growing demand for beef worldwide, especially in emerging markets such as China, India and Southeast Asia, where income growth, urbanization and population growth are driving meat consumption.
  • Benefiting from the favorable exchange rate, which makes Brazilian beef more attractive and affordable for foreign buyers.
  • Taking advantage of the trade agreements that Brazil has signed or is negotiating with other countries and regions, such as the European Union, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, which can open new markets and reduce tariffs for Brazilian beef.
  • Capitalizing on the reputation and recognition that Brazilian beef has gained in the global market, as a high-quality, safe and sustainable product.
  • Collaborating with other actors in the beef value chain, such as research institutions, government agencies, civil society organizations and consumers, to create synergies and partnerships that can enhance the performance and impact of the sector.

Global Beef Export Industry: Trends and Opportunities

The global beef export industry is a dynamic and competitive sector that provides a source of income and food security for many countries. According to the World’s Top Exports website, the total value of globally exported beef (including fresh, chilled and frozen meat) was US$68.2 billion in 2022, an increase of 38.4% from 2018. The main drivers of this growth are the rising demand for high-quality protein, especially in emerging markets, the diversification of production systems and markets, and the resilience of the industry to cope with challenges such as animal diseases, trade barriers and environmental issues.

Top Beef Exporting Countries in 2022

The United States was the largest exporter of beef in 2022, with exports amounting to US$9.3 billion, representing 13.6% of the global market share. The US beef industry benefits from its large domestic market, its efficient and innovative production system, its strong reputation for quality and safety, and its access to diverse export destinations. The main markets for US beef exports are Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and China.

Germany was the second-largest exporter of beef in 2022, with exports worth US$8 billion, accounting for 11.7% of the global market share. Germany is a major producer and consumer of beef in the European Union (EU), and also exports significant volumes to other EU countries, as well as to third countries such as Switzerland, China and Hong Kong.

Mexico was the third-largest exporter of beef in 2022, with exports valued at US$7.2 billion, capturing 10.5% of the global market share. Mexico has a large and diverse cattle sector, ranging from extensive grazing systems to intensive feedlots. Mexico exports mainly to the US, its main trading partner, but also to other markets such as Japan, China and South Korea.

Other notable beef exporters in 2022 were Brazil (US$3.2 billion), Argentina (US$3.1 billion), Netherlands (US$3 billion), Poland (US$2.85 billion), Nicaragua (US$2.76 billion), Canada (US$2.5 billion) and India (US$2.2 billion).

Trends and Opportunities for the Global Beef Export Industry

The global beef export industry faces several opportunities and challenges in the coming years. Some of the key trends and factors that will shape the industry are:

  • The increasing demand for beef in Asia, especially in China, which is expected to become the largest importer of beef by 2023. China’s demand for beef is driven by its growing middle class, its urbanization, its dietary diversification and its preference for high-quality products. China’s domestic production of beef is insufficient to meet its demand, creating opportunities for exporters from other countries.
  • The impact of animal health issues, such as African swine fever (ASF), foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), on the global meat trade. These diseases can affect the supply and demand of meat products, as well as the trade policies and regulations of importing and exporting countries. For example, ASF has decimated China’s pig herd, leading to a surge in pork imports and a substitution effect for other meats such as beef. FMD and BSE can restrict the access of some countries to certain markets due to sanitary requirements.
  • The role of sustainability and animal welfare in the global beef industry. Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about the environmental and social impacts of beef production and consumption, such as greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water use, animal welfare and human health. This creates pressure on producers and exporters to adopt more sustainable practices and standards, such as reducing emissions intensity, improving animal health and welfare, enhancing traceability and transparency, and ensuring food safety and quality.
  • The influence of trade agreements and disputes on the global beef trade. Trade agreements can facilitate or hinder the access of beef exporters to certain markets by reducing or increasing tariffs, quotas, subsidies and non-tariff barriers. Trade disputes can also affect the trade flows and prices of beef products by imposing retaliatory measures or sanctions on some countries or regions. For example, the US-China trade war has affected the exports of US beef to China due to higher tariffs imposed by China.


Top Beef Exporting Countries by World’s Top Exports
US Beef Exports by US Meat Export Federation
Germany Beef Exports by Global Trade Atlas
Mexico Beef Exports by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
China Beef Imports by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
African Swine Fever Impact on China’s Meat Market by Rabobank

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