Brazil government says March beef exports near normal despite meat scandal
In the April newsletter of Checkout Africa under the headline ‘How the Brazilian meat scam has affected Africa’ we linked to this story expressing South Africa’s concern shared with countries around the world.
On April 10, The Embassy of Brazil in Pretoria issued a statement “clarifying the main aspects of both the operation carried out by the Brazilian Federal Police and the Brazilian Government’s system of sanitary inspection for meat products”.
We are happy to offer the full right of reply to the embassy and you can read the full statement on this website. Click HERE
Brazilian fresh beef exports fell 2 per cent in March from a year ago, according to Trade Ministry data, although a government official said the drop was not due to a scandal last month involving alleged corruption by sanitation inspectors, according to Reuters Business News.
Brazilian beef exports totaled $404 million last month, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. Pork exports jumped 39 percent to $138 million while chicken exports rose 12 percent to $571 million.
Export prices rose for all three types of meat between 10 percent and 44 percent on an annual basis, helping to compensate an overall fall in shipment volumes in March, according to ministry data.
The steepest volume drop was for beef, which slumped 11.3 percent to 98,200 tons last month in annual terms. Chicken volumes fell 6.8 percent and pork was down 3.35 percent.
Police have accused more than 100 people, mostly inspectors, of taking bribes in exchange for allowing the sale of rancid products, falsifying export documents or failing to inspect meatpacking plants.
The data indicate the continuing investigation of Brazilian food inspectors, which sparked a series of temporary import bans against meat products from Brazil, did not disrupt exports as severely as initially feared.
The ministry official said after “a brief scare” in the fourth week of March, when there was a drop in average daily meat exports, shipments have normalized, adding that Brazil sold meat products to 137 countries last month.
“The government acted fast and the markets remained open,” Herlon Brandão, director of export statistics at the ministry, told reporters after figures were released.
The drop in exported beef volumes is a continuing trend as countries such as Egypt stopped importing from Brazil for reasons unrelated to the scandal, he said.
On March 17, an investigation of government sanitation authorities that also implicated meat-packers such as BRF SA and JBS SA , prompted large buyers such as China and Hong Kong to ban Brazil’s meat products temporarily.
JBS and BRF have denied any wrongdoing.
Last week, a top European Union health official said Brazil needed independent controls over its meat industry, adding that increased European checks on Brazilian meat imports would not be removed soon.
Prosecutors have yet to present charges in the bribery investigation and the police allegations have not been proven.
In the wake of the allegations, many countries are calling for tighter controls on health inspections and more international visits to abattoirs.
In South Africa an estimated 41 per cent of all chicken imported comes from Brazil. The Chief Executive of the South Africa Poultry Association – a sector already under pressure – has demanded South Africa adopts inspection procedures operated by the EU and the US. It involves visiting exporting countries on a regular basis, to inspect individual abattoirs before certifying and the government must ensure sufficient qualified individuals.