Brazil meat exports slump on trade bans, logistics issues

FILE PHOTO: A worker carries a piece of beef meat inside a butchery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Export sales by Brazilian meat processors lagged last year as trade bans and a domestic truckers’ strike weighed on their ability to serve major customers like Russia and the European Union, according to data released by trade group ABPA on Thursday.

Europe banned 20 Brazilian chicken plants because of food safety concerns, while Russia froze imports of the country’s pork for nearly a year after accusing Brazilian purveyors of using a banned feed additive.

Truckers protesting high diesel prices blocked major roadways in the final weeks of May, curbing domestic shipments of inputs and hampering companies’ ability to deliver goods to ports for shipment overseas.

Brazilian food companies sold 4.1 million tonnes of chicken in export markets last year, down 5.1 percent from 2017.

Pork exports fell by 7.4 percent in 2018, to 549,000 tonnes, according to the data.

Chicken exports picked up in the final six months of 2018, averaging 377,300 tonnes per month and reaching a three-year high, ABPA said. This offset lost sales in the first six months of last year, ABPA said.

The trade group said it expects the strong performance of the second half of 2018 to continue in the new year, citing industry initiatives to lift foreign meat sales, including chicken and pork, to a 500,000-tonne average monthly level through the end of 2020.

Brazil’s chicken exports brought in $6.57 billion in revenue last year, down 9.2 percent from the 2017. Pork sales generated revenue of $1.11 billion, a sharp 24 percent drop from 2017, the ABPA data showed.

Strong sales to China were key for pork exports in 2018, ABPA said, propping up the sector as Russia gradually resumes importing the Brazilian product after lifting the ban.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama