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Brazil Signs Draft Pork Export Protocol With China

by 5m Editor
4 December 2007, at 12:04pm

US - Chinese officials have inked a draft veterinary protocol with Brazil for the export of pork to China, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has learned. Although details of the pact are not available, the agreement was announced during last week's High Level Food Safety Forum in Beijing

"The Brazilians have been looking to gain official access to China for years; a realization of that objective is now within sight,” said USMEF Senior North China Representative Donald Song, who attended the event the forum in Beijing.

Song added there were unconfirmed reports that AQSIQ, the China's veterinary agency, would send officials as early as this week to Brazil to finalize terms of the agreement and perhaps to inspect and approve plants.

Under normal supply protocols with meat and poultry supplying countries, China reaches agreement on general terms of supply of meat and poultry, on a species basis, and then dispatches certification teams to inspect and approve facilities on a plant-by-plant basis. China, however, recognizes all USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service approved U.S. pork facilities as having export eligibility to the country.

According to the China Certification and Accreditation Administration Web site, Brazil currently has 24 poultry plants and three beef plants approved to export to China. Plant accreditation has not necessarily translated into trade, however, and calculating with clarity the levels of Brazil's meat trade with China has been elusive. For example, Brazil statistics report 28,145 metric tons (mt) of poultry meat and 650 mt of beef and beef variety meat were exported to China in 2006, although USMEF understands that the three approved beef facilities have not been eligible to export to China until recently due to Brazil's foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. On Sept. 30, AQSIQ announced that Brazil could resume exports of meat from cloven hoof animals from facilities in Santa Catarina, Acre, Rio Grande do Sul and Rondonia.

Direct Brazilian exports of poultry and beef to China show a declining trend, yet trade with Hong Kong has been rising sharply. Behind Russia, Hong Kong has been the largest buyer of Brazilian pork in recent years, accounting for an 18 percent share of exports in the first 10 months of this year and totaling 85,385 mt.

Achieving direct export eligibility to China would constitute a big victory for Brazilian pork exporters. Chinese pork prices have surged this year, and USMEF believes that many Chinese processors consider Brazil's competitive pork prices to be a good fit for the country's raw material needs. Demand for pork by all sectors and pressure to have multiple supply lines are believed to be some of the reasons why China has finally moved on Brazil's long-standing request to approve pork imports.

China only reports imports from the United States, Canada and a few European Union countries; primarily France, Denmark, Germany and Ireland. Through October, China’s pork imports increased 120 percent to 383,189 mt. Meanwhile, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to China through September increased 66 percent in volume to 76,772 mt and 81 percent in value to 108.9 million compared to the same time last year. Looking at exports to China, Hong Kong was the largest supplier, with exports of 193,479 mt, an increase of nearly 330 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2006.

Unlike its surging beef exports, Brazil's pork exports have see-sawed in recent years, largely in line with the access vicissitudes of the Russian market, which has accounted for between 45 and 65 percent of total Brazilian pork and pork variety meat exports in the past three years. Through October, Brazil’s pork exports to Russia are still 37 percent below the record export volume of 2005. Brazil’s exports to Russia gained momentum during March through July this year, but failed to meet 2005 volume and fell below 2006 volume in September and October.

Brazil’s exports could soon regain momentum since Russia recently signaled an increase in regional market access for Brazil. Brazil’s total pork exports have increased 13 percent during the first 10 months of the year, led by a 42 percent increase in exports to Hong Kong, but are still 10 percent below the record volume exported in 2005.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.

5m Editor