How Brazilian Beef Exports are Feeding the World: 7 Facts You Need to Know
Brazil is a global leader in beef production and exports, with a large and diverse cattle herd that is mostly grass-fed and raised in natural pastures. Here are some facts about the Brazilian beef industry and how it is meeting the growing demand for high-quality meat around the world.
1. Brazil has the world’s second-largest cattle herd, with 232 million head as of 2018
The country produces about 10 million metric tons of beef per year, of which about 25% is exported to hundreds of other nations. Brazil has the capacity to increase its production without expanding its pasture area, thanks to improved genetics, nutrition, health and management practices.
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2. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, providing close to 20% of total global beef exports in 2018
It outpaced India, the second-largest exporter, by 527,000 metric tons carcass weight equivalent (CWE). Brazil’s main markets are China and Hong Kong, which accounted for 44% of Brazil’s total beef shipments in 2018, followed by the Middle East, with 16%. Brazil also exports to South Africa, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, among others.
3. Brazil is the largest producer of halal meat in the world, catering to the needs of Muslim consumers who follow Islamic dietary laws
Brazil has strict protocols and certification systems to ensure that its halal products meet the highest standards of quality and hygiene. Brazil exports halal beef to more than 40 countries, mainly in the Middle East and North Africa.
4. Brazilian beef is mostly grass-fed, which means that it has lower fat content and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than grain-fed beef
Grass-fed beef also has a lower environmental impact than grain-fed beef, as it requires less water, energy and land use. Brazilian cattle graze on natural pastures that cover about 13% of the country’s territory, preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services.
5. Brazilian beef is safe and traceable, complying with the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of its importing countries
Brazil has a robust animal health system that monitors and controls diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and brucellosis. Brazil also has a national traceability system that allows tracking the origin and destination of each animal from birth to slaughter.
6. Brazilian beef is sustainable and socially responsible, contributing to the economic development and social inclusion of millions of farmers and workers in the sector
Brazil has implemented several initiatives to prevent and combat deforestation, such as the Forest Code, the Soy Moratorium and the Cattle Agreement. Brazil also adheres to international conventions and agreements on labor rights, animal welfare and climate change.
7. Brazilian beef is delicious and versatile, offering a wide range of cuts and preparations for different cuisines and preferences
Brazilian beef is tender, juicy and flavorful, thanks to its genetic diversity and natural feeding. Brazilian beef can be enjoyed as steaks, roasts, burgers, stews or barbecue (churrasco), among other dishes.
Brazilian Beef Exports: Trends and Prospects
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, providing close to 20 percent of total global beef exports in 2018, according to the USDA. The country has a large and competitive cattle industry that is based on grass-fed production systems. Brazil’s beef exports have grown significantly in recent years, driven by strong demand from China, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. In this article, we will examine the main trends and prospects for Brazilian beef exports in the global market.
China: The Main Destination for Brazilian Beef
China has become the main destination for Brazilian beef since it lifted a ban on Brazilian beef imports in 2012, following a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Brazil in 2010. China’s demand for beef has increased rapidly due to rising incomes, urbanization, and dietary changes. China imported 3.9 billion U.S. dollars worth of beef and veal from Brazil in 2021, accounting for 44 percent of Brazil’s total beef exports, according to Statista. China also imports beef from Brazil through Hong Kong, which was the third-largest destination for Brazilian beef in 2021, with 839.8 million U.S. dollars worth of imports.
Brazil has been able to increase its market share in China by expanding the number of authorized plants for export, improving sanitary and quality standards, and offering competitive prices. Brazil also benefits from preferential tariffs under the Mercosur-China free trade agreement, which gives it an edge over other major suppliers such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Brazil is expected to continue its export growth trajectory to China for the next decade, as China’s domestic production cannot keep up with its consumption.
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The Middle East: A Growing Market for Halal Beef
The Middle East is another important market for Brazilian beef, especially for halal-certified products that comply with Islamic dietary laws. The region accounted for 16.1 percent of Brazil’s total beef exports in 2018, according to USDA. The main destinations were Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
Brazil is the world’s largest producer of halal meat, with a long history of exporting to Muslim countries. Brazil has a competitive advantage in this market due to its large and diverse cattle herd, its low production costs, its high sanitary standards, and its cultural and diplomatic ties with the region. Brazil also faces less competition from other suppliers in the Middle East, as some countries have trade restrictions or political conflicts with them.
Brazil aims to increase its beef exports to the Middle East by diversifying its product portfolio, offering more value-added products, and exploring new markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Brazil also hopes to benefit from the recent normalization of relations between some Arab countries and Israel, which could open up new opportunities for trade and investment.
Challenges and Opportunities for Brazilian Beef Exports
Brazil faces some challenges in maintaining and expanding its beef exports in the global market. Some of these challenges are:
Brazil has been criticized by some environmental groups and consumers for its role in deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions from cattle ranching. Brazil has taken some measures to address these issues, such as implementing traceability systems, promoting sustainable practices, and participating in international agreements such as the Paris Climate Accord.
Brazil has faced some sanitary issues that have affected its reputation and market access. For example, in 2017, Brazil was involved in a corruption scandal involving meat inspectors who allegedly approved tainted meat for export. This led to some countries suspending or banning Brazilian meat imports temporarily. Brazil has since improved its inspection and quality control systems, and restored most of its export markets.
Brazil faces some trade barriers that limit its access to some potential markets. For example, Brazil does not have a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU), which imposes high tariffs and quotas on Brazilian beef imports. The EU also has stricter sanitary and animal welfare standards than Brazil. Brazil is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU as part of Mercosur, but the deal faces some opposition from some EU countries and sectors.
Brazil faces increasing competition from other beef exporters that are also expanding their production and market share. For example, India is the second-largest exporter of beef after Brazil, mainly supplying low-cost buffalo meat to Asian and African markets. Australia and New Zealand are also major suppliers of high-quality grass-fed beef to China and other markets. The United States is a dominant player in the North American market and has recently regained access to China after a 14-year ban.
Despite these challenges, Brazil also has some opportunities to enhance its beef exports in the global market. Some of these opportunities are:
Brazil can differentiate its products by offering more value-added products that cater to specific consumer preferences and needs. For example, Brazil can offer more organic, grass-fed, premium, or niche products that can command higher prices and margins. Brazil can also leverage its reputation as a producer of halal meat to tap into the growing Muslim population worldwide.
Brazil can diversify its markets by exploring new regions and countries that have high demand and potential for beef imports. For example, Brazil can target emerging markets such as Africa, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, where consumption is growing and competition is lower. Brazil can also seek to increase its presence in existing markets such as the United States, Japan, and South Korea, where it has a low market share but high potential.
Innovation and technology
Brazil can invest in innovation and technology to improve its productivity, quality, and sustainability of its beef industry. For example, Brazil can adopt new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, biotechnology, and precision agriculture to enhance its traceability, efficiency, and environmental performance. Brazil can also foster innovation by supporting research and development, education, and entrepreneurship in the beef sector.
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, with a strong and competitive cattle industry that is based on grass-fed production systems. Brazil’s beef exports have grown significantly in recent years, driven by strong demand from China, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. Brazil faces some challenges in maintaining and expanding its beef exports in the global market, such as environmental concerns, sanitary issues, trade barriers, and competition. However, Brazil also has some opportunities to enhance its beef exports in the global market, such as product differentiation, market diversification, innovation and technology.
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