The quality of Brazilian beef is "still not that great when you compare its tenderness and taste with beef produced in Ireland", according a Brazilian beef exporter.
Dyego Pedott, a beef export trader with Brazil-based Unitrading Logistics, said the "only thing Brazilian beef can compete with Irish beef on is price".
He made his comments in an interview with the Irish Farmers Journal at Brazil’s meat produce stand at Gulfood 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week.
Pedott had observed Bord Bia’s Origin Green stand at the food trade fair where meat companies including Dawn Farm Foods, Ashbourne Meats and John Stone were marketing Irish produce.
The Irish and Brazilain stands are among thousands at the international food fair.
The Brazilian beef exporter, who was impressed with Irish agriculture’s sustainability credentials, explained why Brazilian beef will “always be” at a lower price than Irish beef.
“We have a lot of animals. In Brazil you have two cattle for every one person. That’s why we can supply to the world with a much better price," he said.
Pedott said that this production of quantity over quality beef has led to a market where “other South American countries like Uruguay and Argentina have much better [beef] quality in terms of tenderness and taste as well”.
When asked by the Irish Farmers Journal about the sustainability of Brazilian beef production, the São Paulo-based trader said there will be no progress on climate measures “with this president right now”.
He acknowledged that the image of Brazilian beef as being bad for the environment has damaged its export prospects in potential markets.
On his Government’s agricultural policies, he said: “We don’t have anything that goes towards caring for nature.”
A separate Brazilian beef exporter to the Middle East, Joao Santos Lima of SL Trading argued against Pedott’s claim of Brazilian’s beef lack of climate credentials.
He said that 95% of the beef produced in Brazil comes from farms which are “the other side of the country from the Amazon rainforest”.
Lima said beef farmers are not “clearing the rainforest” in the way that many people perceive, especially those in Europe.
He said Brazil’s Zebu cattle need dry, hot conditions to thrive and that therefore, the heavy rainfall of the rainforest region makes it unsuitable for beef farming.
Dyego Pedott said that in Brazil, 80% of the beef produced goes to local markets.
However, he said producers and exporters want to continue to increase the volume exported.
“Instead of producing beef for the local market, we’re going to export it. They will increase the volume for sure.”
Pedott said the Mercosur trade agreement “isn’t going to impact [Brazilian beef exports] that much because [the European] market is already dead”.
“For the European market, I don’t see our exports increasing because you have a quota and we can’t pass it. So [Brazil] increasing exports will not be for Europe.”
Joao Santos Lima said that Ireland and Brazil are not competing in many of their strongest export markets.
He said that in the Middle East, where Ireland’s focus is the “premium cuts”, Brazil is seeing increases in the export of its “poorer quality cuts such as brisket”.
He argued that the two countries have a different product, in terms of price and quality, and said therefore in many markets “we’re not competing directly”.
Brazil’s beef price relative to Irish beef is set as much by volatile currency exchange rates as it is by the farmgate price.
If we used the exchange rate from this time two years ago, Brazilian beef would be ahead of Ireland but the Brazilian currency has weakened significantly since then. Using today's exchange rate, Brazilian steer beef is the equivalent of €3.70/kg, while the Irish price at the end of the first week of February was the equivalent of €4.57/kg, including VAT.