According to the most recent data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in 2012 Brazil was ranked the second-largest producer of cattle meat, the third-largest producer of both chicken meat and turkey meat, and the fifth-largest producer of pig meat. In terms of the global meat trade, it’s a key player. It produced approximately 9.3 million tonnes (mt) of cattle meat, 3.4mt of pig meat, 11.5mt of chicken meat, 510,000t of turkey meat, and 85,005t of sheep meat.
Fast forward two years and the USDA’s latest Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade report – published in April 2014 – stated that in terms of world beef production, increased slaughter had pushed Brazilian beef production 20,000 metric tons higher since its latest update in November 2013, to 9.920mt. It said that despite tight supplies globally, the trade for beef and veal continued to flourish, with a more favourable demand outlook for a wide range of countries, including China, Saudi Arabia and the EU, which could stimulate greater shipments by Brazil and India.
Despite being blocked from shipments to China, the beef and veal export forecast for Brazil was revised upward 90,000t, to over 2mt. The USDA also stated that Brazil had the capacity to make additional and substantial inroads in markets such as Venezuela, Chile and Iran, due to its competitive pricing. For example, EU imports from Brazil accelerated recently due, in part, to the depreciation of the Real against the Euro.
Looking at the pork sector, Brazil’s exports were forecast 55,000t higher at 675,000t, with increased shipments to Russia replacing EU pork. "With an additional plant becoming eligible to ship to Russia at the beginning of April, exports prospects are supported. The depreciation of the Real is also expected to make Brazilian product more competitive in the world market," stated the USDA report.
Meanwhile, lower-than-expected domestic and foreign demand pushed Brazil’s broiler meat production down 342,000t to 12.7mt. "Domestic consumption is dampened by economic uncertainty, rising inflation and greater competition from beef and pork," said the report. Meanwhile, the forecast for the country’s broiler meat exports was also reduced by 25,000t to 3.6mt on lower-than-expected demand from Sub-Saharan Africa and greater competition in the Middle East.
The cost of Brazilian beef was driven upwards earlier this year, due to unseasonably hot weather and the lowest level of rain for two decades, resulting in a drop in cattle supplies. However, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture in Brazil said no specific action had been needed by the government, and that there were long-term investment policies in place "for the breeding herd, renovation of degraded pastures and animal welfare, aimed at increasing the average productivity and profitability of domestic livestock".
In March, the members of the Brazilian Poultry Association (UBABEF) and the Brazilian Pork Industry and Exporter Association (ABIPECS) merged, to become the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA). The newly merged association is looking to boost the number of its members, as well as build an organisation that offers even greater representation, and broadening the political and social role of the old organisations.
While figures from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Strategic Management Advisory Board put predictions for domestic consumption at 50% of the total livestock produced, by 2019/20, Brazil is keen to boost its export markets. Brazil is hopeful that China will reopen its market to Brazilian beef in the near future, while five poultry plants were given the green light to export their produce to China in March this year, adding to the 24 sites already approved. The country also hopes to expand its exports to Mexico, following a visit from Mexican health officials last month.
However, the Nicaraguan government recently raised fears that the planned reopening of the US market to Brazilian beef, could risk spreading foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to north and central America. Speaking at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) sanitary and phytosanitary committee, in Geneva in March, representatives spoke out against the plans, but Brazil defended itself, stating it exports beef and beef products to over 100 countries and was a "valuable and trustworthy supplier". Data from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said that Brazil had not reported an FMD outbreak since 2006, although vaccination was still carried out and the country had yet to be declared free of the disease.
Key stats: (source: USDA Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade report – April 2014)
Beef and veal:
Production – 9.920 million tons (mt)
Total domestic consumption – 7.925mt
Total exports – 2.030mt
Production – 3.4mt
Total domestic consumption – 2.727mt.
Total exports – 675,000t
Production – 12.678mt
Total domestic consumption – 9.081mt.
Total exports – 3.6mt
Production – 535,000t
Total domestic consumption – 355,000t
Total exports – 180,000t