This success comes in the face of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in recent years, along with the inevitable transport challenges that come from being a landlocked nation.
But with a population of seven million, the Paraguayan beef industry is heavily focused on exports, as only 20% of production is consumed domestically. Also, Paraguay has recently overtaken Argentina as being among the world’s leading beef exporters, a scenario which until relatively recently would have been unthinkable, according to the UK beef and lamb levy body Eblex’s market intelligence report published yesterday (3 June).
In the first three months of 2015, exports have increased further, up by almost a quarter on the year, at 67,000 tonnes. Paraguay’s largest export market remains Russia, which accounts for 37% of all exports, while exports to Chile have been recovering following the market being closed due to FMD, which began in late 2011 and continued throughout 2012.
However, exports were up by over a third in the first quarter of this year. Other key markets for Paraguay include Israel, Brazil and Hong Kong, while the EU has recently lifted its ban on Paraguayan beef as a result of the FMD outbreak in 2011. Before the ban, exports to the EU had been growing consistently.
Moreover, according to Eblex, the outlook for the Paraguayan beef export sector continues to look positive. The heavy Brazilian investment in Paraguay’s beef industry is a clear sign of the country’s potential and, despite being small compared to the world’s largest exporters, the Paraguayan beef industry is well-placed for continued growth.
It is expected that the cattle herd will grow be around 20 million by 2020, further boosting the country’s export potential. "Looking ahead it is likely that the Paraguayan beef industry will remain competitive on the global markets," said the report. "With the reopening of the EU market, there is the possibility to open other markets that follow EU standards."