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14/12/2017 - 17:22hs

Arab countries account for 40% of Brazil’s beef exports

Seven nations in the region are on the list of top 20 buyers of Brazilian product. The Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (Abiec) presented the industry’s results this Thursday.

São Paulo – Arab countries retain a 40% share of foreign sales of beef from Brazil, the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (Abiec) chairman Antonio Jorge Camardelli said this Thursday (14) during a press conference in São Paulo. He disclosed the results from 2017 and discussed the outlook for the industry next year.

Bruna Garcia/ANBA

Abiec chairman sees exports going up 13% this year

The Abiec estimates that beef exports from Brazil will be up 13% this year, with revenue reaching USD 5.2 billion and 1.53 million tons shipped to 134 different countries. The biggest buyers are Hong Kong, China and Russia. Expectations for 2018 include 9.8% increase in total volume shipped and a 10.5% hike in revenue.

The industry took a hit from the Brazilian Federal Police operation Carne Fraca last April, but recovery was swift and results have been positive nonetheless. The operation was a probe into suspected bribery by meatpackers.

Camardelli sees these setbacks in a positive light. He said the events led the industry to modernize, albeit forcefully, as several standards have now been updated, in keeping with current market requirements. “This is a sensitive issue and I may come across as arrogant, but there’s no country in the world that can match Brazilian beef,” he said.

Out of the 20 biggest importers of Brazilian beef, seven are Arab countries. Egypt placed 5th at USD 479.5 million, down 11% year-to-date through November from the comparable year-ago period. Saudi ranked ninth at USD 161 million in imports, up 63%.

The UAE were the 10th biggest importer at USD 88.1 million, up 14%. Jordan ranked 15th at UsD 44.5 million and a 1.5% increase. Algeria placed 16th at USD 40.6 million, down 34.62% from 2014. Palestine was the 18th leading buyer at USD 25.1 million, the same amount as last year’s.

Camardelli gave an assessment of why some of the countries stepped down their imports. “Egypt’s imports are on the way back up. They had an exchange rate issue, and this has been solved. The government is no longer influencing trade. We sold a lot of product to Egypt’s government during Ramadan (May/June).”

“Sales to Lebanon saw a slight decline. In the case of Algeria, what happened was they put a tax on frozen beef and this made sales impractical, but they have cleared fresh beef of taxes, so this was in a way a good thing for us. We believe things will be back to normal next year,” he said.

The chairman discussed the industry’s outlook regarding Arab countries. “Arab countries currently account for 40% of our exports, and we want to broaden the range of products available. We are going for a new profile. We are setting out to increase fresh beef sales, and to try and sell less frozen beef, because this is much more profitable for companies, as the production-sale-distribution cycle is much shorter,” he explained.

Another growing concern for the industry is the halal market (i.e. foods whose consumption is permitted under Islam). According to estimates, by 2020, Muslims will make up one third of the world’s population. At this time, 90% of Brazilian meat packers are accredited to produce halal beef, and the country is the biggest supplier of beef to Islamic countries.

Camardelli also said the Abiec will be at the Gulfood expo in Dubai next February. “The Dubai expo has become a must for the industry,” he concluded.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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