Brazilian pork suppliers open door to US

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Export, International trade, Us, Pork

Brazilian pork suppliers open door to US
Brazil has welcomed a decision by US officials to accept pork imports from Santa Catarina slaughterhouses.

Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry announced last Tuesday (10 January) that the US Department for Agriculture (USDA) had agreed to allow Brazilian inspectors to approve slaughterhouses in the state of Santa Catarina for the production of raw pork to export to the US. Cooked and processed pork from other states, which are free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) with vaccination, can also be exported via approved Santa Catarina plants.

Pedro de Camargo Neto, president of the Brazilian Pork Industry and Exporter Association (ABIPECS), said the USDA decision marked the end of a long process of approval, which began in 2007 when the International Animal Health Organisation (OIE) announced that Santa Catarina was free of FMD.

“After a Brazilian request in 2007 a​ [US] veterinary mission visited the country in April 2008 and prepared a risk assessment study,”​ he said. “After the results and public consultation in 2010 USDA declared this region as authorised to export. During 2011 the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry prepared the documents necessary to authorise certain slaughterhouses.”

Negotiations between the USDA and Brazil intensified in March last year, with the Brazilian industry and government working hard to prove that the meat would meet US sanitary requirements, and that Brazilian inspectors were capable of monitoring and approving plants. However, all US concerns have now been met and six plants have been approved for export.

Neto said that Brazil did not “expect to export large volumes”​ to the US, with exports likely to comprise of cuts that have a low demand in Brazil and a high demand in the US, such as ribs and bacon. However, he added that it was an important step for the Brazilian industry, because US approval “represents a seal of indisputable quality”.

Official recognition from the USDA that Brazilian meat inspection services are equivalent to those in the US could open up markets in countries that are currently closed to Brazil, such as Japan and South Korea. The Asian meat market currently imports $7bn in pork, with Japan alone importing $4bn-worth annually.

Brazil’s agriculture minister Mendes Ribeiro Filho said the US decision would allow Brazil to gain ground in these markets. “We intend to increase exports of pork to China, open the Japan market and resume sales to​ [South] Korea,”​ he added.

Opening new markets is particularly important for Brazil, which suffered a blow to exports last year when its biggest pork importer, Russia, banned meat and livestock imports from nearly 90 manufacturers in three Brazilian states. According to data from ABIPECS, Brazil exported 126,449 tonnes of pork to Russia between January and December 2011, a fall of 45.96% over the 12 months of 2010. The fall in revenue was around 40%.

Hong Kong is now the biggest importer, with Brazil exporting 129,734 tonnes in January to December 2011, an increase of 30.08% over the same period in 2010.

Related topics: Meat

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