CHINA – JBS, a Brazilian company that is the world’s largest processor of fresh beef and pork, has announced that China has lifted pandemic-related bans imposed in 2020 on imports from two of its meat plants, according to Reuters.

Located in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, both plants saw outbreaks of Covid-19 among employees last year.

In response to the corona virus outbreaks, China suspended imports from the JBS facilities in Três Passos and Passo Fundo – which produce pork and chicken products respectively.

The ban intended to curb the spread of covid-19 in the Asian country was also extended to a number of other Brazilian meat plants including BRF SA- another major food which food company in the country.

Chinese authorities began cracking down on meat from countries with high covid-19 cases after their health officials detected Covid-19 in frozen meats from Brazil, Bolivia and New Zealand.

Among the three countries, Brazil was the most affected with exports from 5 of its plants denied entry into the Chinese market.

In response to the bans, meat processors in Brazil embarked on implementing measures aimed at enhancing the safety of their products.

For instance, meatpackers in Santa Catarina, Brazil’s largest pork producing state, spent an extra 55 million reais ($10.36 million) in 2020 as they replaced high-risk employees, added buses to move workers safely and hired health monitors.

These developments may have borne fruits as the Chinese officials have since scaled down the number of bans from five plants to two.

JBS, the leading meat processor in the world said in a statement that the lifting of the bans has raised the number of JBS plants in the country that are authorised to sell meat to China to 25

The meatpacker added that none of its other Brazilian plants are currently restricted by China, the biggest buyer of Brazil’s meat exports.

The improvements on the safety and hygiene facilities in the meat processing plant however, had a cost that has to be transferred to the buyer.

“When problems are identified at the processing plant, the burden of additional costs falls on the seller to bear,” said Alcides Torres, partner at consultancy Scot Consultoria.

Brazilian meat is thus expected to be a little bit expensive, at least in the near term, as meat processing factories struggle to recover the huge investments placed to renovate factories and make them fully compliant to Covid-19 safety regulations.

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