Brazilian producers of cattle beef are going to continue expanding markets in 2005. The sector currently exports to 140 countries (106 in 2003) and, next year, intends to sell, at least, to 150 destinations.
The executive director of the Brazilian Beef Industry and Exporters Association (Abiec), Antonio Jorge Camardelli, forecasts that the country should export the equivalent to US$ 2.2 billion up to the end of 2004 and expand sales by at least 10% next year.
The Arab countries already represent a good share of this export. Between January and October, Brazil sold 1.5 million tons of beef on the foreign market, which generated revenues of over US$ 2 billion. The Arabs imported the equivalent to US$ 324.6 million in the period, which corresponds to 16% of the total.
“During this year, we were very worried in following the religious requirements of the Muslims. Each of our associates’ plants has a representative of the religion to inspect the slaughter,” stated Camardelli.
Abiec has 20 associated slaughterhouses that, together, answer to 95% of Brazilian cattle beef exports.
Following the trend in total foreign trade of cattle beef, he believes that sales to the Arabs are going to rise at least 10% in 2005.
“The tendency is for people to notice more and more that nobody has prices that are as competitive as ours,” he declared.
According to Camardelli, the cost of production in Brazil is around 90 dollar cents per kilogram. In Argentina, this value rises to US$ 1.30 and in the United States, to US$ 1.90.
Apart from that, he recalled that Brazilian cattle is “green”, that is, it is fed almost exclusively on grazing ground, which results in lower levels of fat, when compared to confined cattle, and it reduces the possibility of mad cow disease, which is supposedly transmitted due to cattle being fed on pellets produced using animal remains.
When considering new destinations, one of the great sector bets is China, a country where Brazil is going to start exporting next year, and where, in the middle term, the market may rise as high as US$ 600 million, or almost 30% of the current exports.
Camardelli believes that, in 2005, China may absorb around 10% of Brazilian exports.
In 2004, for the second year running, according to information supplied by the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA), the country was in first place in the rank of largest world exporters of cattle beef, ahead of other giants in the sector, like the United States and Australia. Brazil, according to Camardelli, has around 15% of foreign trade of the product.
However, the country only has access to around 50% of the global market. Important countries like the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea and Mexico only import industrialized beef from Brazil, not the raw product, which is responsible for the largest volume of exports.
The sector is anxiously awaiting the result of negotiations with the Russian government, which has recently imposed an embargo on new import contracts from Brazil due to the occurrence of foot and mouth disease in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas, in September.
The Brazilian government hopes to find a solution to the impasse, as Russia is currently the largest importer of Brazilian cattle beef.
For sector exports to continue rising, Camardelli stated that the Brazilian government must expand the funds destined to sanitary defence, as well as investing in infrastructure.
“If we had access to the entire world market, the transport infrastructure would not cope,” he said.
The country has the largest cattle herd in the world. There are 195.5 million heads of cattle, according to figures supplied by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE), greater than the human population, which is of 182 million people.
Annual production is 7.68 million tons of beef, according to Camardelli.
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency