BRAZIL – The government of Brazil announced the suspension of beef exports to China, on account of the detection of a single case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow” disease in the state of Pará.

The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock released a statement on Sunday (Feb 26th) that read, “Following the official health protocol, exports to China were temporarily suspended as of Thursday.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Carlos Fávaro announced that the infected animal was slaughtered and its carcass immediately incinerated on the site.

He further added that the ministry had reported the case to the World Organization for Animal Health (OMAS) and that samples were already sent to the institution’s reference laboratory in Alberta, Canada.

“All measures are being adopted immediately at each stage of the investigation and the matter is being treated with total transparency to guarantee Brazilian and world consumers the recognized quality of our meat”, guaranteed Minister Carlos Fávaro.

Brazil, one of the largest exporters of beef in the world, has more than half of its export sales in this segment in the Chinese market.

According to Statista, in 2021, Brazil’s main export partner for beef and veal was China, with around US$3.9 billion worth of the product exported that year.

In comparison, exports of beef and veal from Brazil to the European Union attained a value of about US$540 million in the same year.

In 2022, Brazil exported €12.34 billion (US$13.9B) worth of beef, a 42% increase compared to the amount exported in 2021.

The country exported a total of 469,000 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef in Q1 2022 an increase of 37% (+126,000 tonnes) from Q1 2021, according to the AHDB from England.

In matters of production, Brazil slaughtered a total of 6.96 million head of cattle, in the first quarter of 2022, a 6% increase (+362,000 head) compared to 2021.

In the last quarter of 2021, China imposed a ban on beef imports from Brazil after two cases of mad cow disease were detected in Brazil.

They however lifted the restrictions which led to a 30% increase in Brazil’s beef exports to china.

This year’s suspension may lead to an increase in domestic market prices while supporting supplies from other exporting countries including Australia given that Brazilian beef takes the top share in the Chinese market.

While the Brazilian government has yet to disclose the exact time of the trade resumption, analysts believe that the suspension would be temporary and therefore the potential market impact is controllable.

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