Comment: beef news from Brazil (courtesy of FC Stone, Australia)

Allan BarberThe most significant news over the weekend is the announcement that the US government will allow the importation of beef from Brazil. This is a big change in US policy that will see Brazilian beef for the first time compete head on with Australian and New Zealand beef in the US market.

Brazil does not have a quota into the US like Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay and Argentina. Therefore, to avoid the out of quota tariff (26.5 percent) they will have to import it under the ‘Other Quota’ currently utilised by Central America, which is 66,000 tonnes. Brazil’s ability to fill this quickly, but also to build credibility in the US market, could see this access increase over the next five to 10 years.

The other key component to this is that other countries like Japan and Korea may take the lead from the US and also accept Brazilian fresh beef. Once again, this will have a major impact on Australia and New Zealand’s competiveness in these markets. The ability of Brazil to ramp up supply cannot be underestimated.

 USDA proposes to allow importation of beef from specific Brazilian states

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to amend its regulations to allow, under certain conditions, the importation of fresh beef from specific Brazilian states. Earlier in the week, the USDA and Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA) issued a joint statement affirming their mutual commitment to science-based rule-making and announcing both countries agreed to a path forward to address rules that currently limit bi-lateral beef trade.

The proposed regulation changes would allow the importation of chilled or frozen beef while continuing to protect the United States from an introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Based on a risk assessment and series of site visits, APHIS concluded that Brazil has the veterinary infrastructure in place to detect and effectively eradicate an FMD outbreak if necessary.

Also, imported beef would be subject to regulations that would mitigate the risk of FMD introduction, including movement restrictions, inspections, removal of potentially affected parts and a maturation process. Before actual importation of beef from these Brazilian states, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service must also determine Brazil as eligible to export fresh/frozen beef products after a final regulation by APHIS has been published.

“The Brazilian health service does an exemplary job, ensuring that the requirements of inspection for food produced in the country are fulfilled to the letter. This has guaranteed security for our customers, who know that they are getting quality products. There is no wonder we are among the main beef exporters in the world,” he said.

Global Meat News.com recently highlighted Brazil’s current volume of beef exports (see article below).

Brazil beef exports hit new record in November (Global Meat News.com)

According to the Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), beef export values are now expected to exceed $6.5 billion in 2013, which would be a 15 percent year-on-year increase from the $5.7 billion recorded last year. It added that Brazil had exported over 1.35 million tonnes of beef to 130 countries so far this year. Agriculture Minister Antonio Andrade said the result demonstrated that Brazil’s trading partners had confidence in the quality and safety of Brazilian beef.

Andrade also stressed the importance of negotiations with Russia, which recently agreed to lift a ban on Brazilian beef imposed in 2009. President of the Brazilian Association of Meat Exporters (ABIEC), Camardelli Antonio, said that expansion of emerging markets, such as Hong Kong, had also driven significant growth. “We also had a significant increase in the negotiations carried out with Venezuela and Middle Eastern countries, including Iran and Israel,” he said.

According to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Brazil is the world’s biggest beef exporter this year, ahead of India and Australia. In a bid to boost exports, Brazil has intensified its inspection programme which is managed by the Federal Inspection Service (SIF) over recent years. According to the latest data from MAPA, SIF operates in 278 slaughterhouses across Brazil and compliance with animal health standards is around 90.51 percent.

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