Last week it looked like Brazil was reopening the door into China for beef exports. T

ens of thousands of tonnes that had been certified before the BSE suspension on 4 September were given clearance to enter China.

Additionally, the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) Tereza Cristina, is hoping exports will resume in the next month.

Meanwhile, with China closed, Brazil have been pushing sales of manufacturing beef in the US and have received a huge boost with Russia lifting restrictions imposed on Brazilian factories in 2017 as well as creating a 200,000t tariff-free quota for beef imports in 2022.

The closure of the Chinese markets since September has probably caused a rethink in Brazil about their level of exposure to the Chinese beef market.

As Brazilian production and exports grew alongside Chinese import demand in recent years, the volume of business has multiplied several times.

In 2015, Brazil exported 56,000t. By 2018, this had grown to 323,000t and in 2020 it had reached 848,000t, all product weight. This represented 40% of Brazil’s beef exports and the same share of China’s beef imports.

The interruption in supply from Brazil has also for the first time in the past decade meant a slow down in China’s total beef imports. Uruguay has also filled part of the gap left by Brazil but the most dramatic chance in 2021 has been the growth of beef imported by China from the US.

In 2020, the total volume imported from the US was just over 28,000t. This year by the end of September, the US had exported over 128,000t of beef to China.

Data sources: Chinese customs and US Meat Exporters Federation