Brazil 2020 beef exports undeterred by novel coronavirus: Abiec

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian beef exports in 2020 will likely set a new record in terms of volume and value despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, Antônio Camardelli, president of beef group Abiec, said on Thursday.

No beef plants in Brazil were paralyzed because of the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, he said during a live video session, adding that demand from China remained strong.

Camardelli estimated Brazilian exports would generate $8 billion in sales this year, up from $7.65 billion in 2019, while beef volumes could reach 2 million tonnes, almost 130,000 tonnes more than in 2019.

He said when the pandemic is over, the countries which have the most organized supply chains will boost their share in global beef markets, naming Brazil as a natural candidate.

In the first four months of 2020, Brazil boosted exports to China by 111% to 202,000 tonnes, with $1.1 billion in sales to the country, Camardelli said.

Given Brazil’s better sanitary status relative to rival suppliers, Camardelli also noted he is hopeful the country’s meatpackers would soon be able to access alternative markets that buy more expensive cuts.

He said Brazilian beef companies have yet to reach 40% of importing countries “that pay the best prices,” citing Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Canada.

Reporting by Nayara Figueiredo and Ana Mano; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman