Brazil beef exports to China rise in March -sources

SAO PAULO, March 27 (Reuters) - Brazil’s main buyer of beef, China, has resumed imports of Brazilian meat in high quantities, after a slowdown in the first two months of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak, industry sources told Reuters.

“The Chinese have started buying again with more intensity,” said a source at a big meat exporter, asking not to be named to discuss the situation freely.

“The prices are not the same as at the end of last year, but they are still good prices, and the exchange rate helps a lot,” the source added.

Brazil’s currency, the Real, has fallen more than 25% so far this year against the dollar. Bigger purchases from China would boost Brazil’s largest meatpackers, such as Marfrig Global Foods , JBS and Minerva SA.

Cesar de Castro Alves, a consultant at Itau BBA, said exports to China have risen lately, even though those trends have not yet been captured by the export data released so far.

China will need some 2.9 million tonnes of beef this year, Alves said, to compensate for animals infected with African swine fever.

Gustavo Machado, from the consultancy Agrifatto, said prices paid by China had more than doubled since last year. (Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Daniel Wallis)