Brazilian beef farmers and exporters received the news they were waiting for since September with the announcement that beef exports to China could resume with immediate effect. The suspension has been in place since 4 September 2021, although beef in transit that was certified before that date was cleared for import in September. Brazil accounts for 20% of global beef exports amounting to approximately 2m tonnes annually, and prior to the suspension, 40% of this went to China.

In the period between January and the end of September 2021, China imported 1,737,962t of beef, with 683,480 of this coming from Brazil.

Brazil was the biggest beef supplier to China by a considerable distance when the suspension was announced following the discovery of two atypical cases of BSE in Brazil. At that point they were supplying almost twice as much beef as Argentina, the next biggest supplier at 352,968t

Irish angle

Irish farmers and exporters will be watching anxiously to see if the Irish Government can succeed in having the suspension lifted as well.

The circumstances for the Irish and Brazilian suspensions are identical, the only difference is timing. Ireland discovered a case of atypical BSE in May 2020 and as the export protocol with China decrees, exports were suspended immediately.

Brazil is a more significant player than Ireland

Despite engagement between officials and at political level, the suspension has remained in place since.

Irish beef exports to China were just picking up pace in early 2020, with 7,500t supplied prior to the suspension. For volume, Brazil is a more significant player than Ireland and their expectation had been that any suspension would last no more than a few weeks.

With a previous BSE incident in Brazil, the suspension lasted just two weeks.

Irish farmers waiting in hope

The news that the world’s biggest beef importer is doing business again with the world’s biggest exporter will bring a level of stability and certainty to global beef trade that has been absent in recent weeks.

That in itself is good news for Irish beef producers, but what would be even better is an announcement to the effect that the Irish Government had secured the response Brazil got much more quickly to the same problem.