In a 21st century version of the biblical story about John the Baptist paving the way for the coming of Jesus, the Batista brothers are doing the same ahead of the Brazil presidential visit to China at the end of March.

Wesley and Joesley who are behind JBS, the biggest beef processor in the world, are part of a 100-strong business team accompanying the agriculture minister’s visit to China ahead of President Lula’s visit there next week. The team is working frantically to get the ban on Brazil’s beef exports to China lifted following the BSE case in January.

The ambition is that the president will be able to announce the resurrection of beef exports during the state visit, and the 100 or so business apostles can return to Brazil and resume exporting close to 1m tonnes of beef to China over the next year.