The first delivery of beef from Marfrig arrived by plane in the US on 27 September. Whilst it just a small volume of meat, the moment in itself is significant as it marks an early step in Brazil’s ambitious plan to re-establish itself on the global beef stage - and the US is a high-priority target.
Earlier in August, Brazilian and US governments agreed to reopen two-way beef trade, ending a beef ban that had been in place since 2003 over Bovine spongiform encephalopathy concerns.
Brazil is currently limited to share an export quota of 64,800 tonnes (t) with what the US defines as ‘other countries’. But because this quota was not met last year, analysts expect Brazil could export as much as 40,000t of beef next year.
Marfrig is the first Brazilian company to send beef to the US after the trade ban was lifted, and the occasion was not downplayed by Andrew Murchie, the CEO of Marfrig’s beef division.
“After making the first sea shipment to the US from Brazil, Marfrig has bought its incredible ability to deliver high animal protein on a global scale and support Brazil’s potential to once again become a global leader in the production of cattle,” said Murchie.
Marfrig’s has now sent consignments of beef by sea and air. The first to arraive came from its Bataguassu meat factory in Mato Grosso do Sul and was delivered to Miami on an American Airlines flight.
Meat processors JBS and Minerva have also benefited from the relaxation in trade barriers with the US and are both preparing shipments of beef in the coming weeks. JBS’ meat plants in Naviraí, Campo Grande, Andradina and Lins have been authorised to export beef to America. Two of Minerva’s factories have won trade certificates.
Volume-based global exports of Brazilian beef increased by 9% in the first seven months of 2016 as a challenging economic environment forced producers to ship more beef abroad. Exports to all countries are expected to grow in 2017. Now that the US has lifted trade restrictions on Brazil, Rabobank analysts suggest Canada, South Korea and Japan – all countries to have banned Brazilian beef – could follow the US in negotiating a trade deal with Brazil.