Brazil gets approval for 13 meatpacking plants for China exports

SÃO PAULO (Reuters) - Chinese authorities approved new Brazilian meat exporting plants on Tuesday, according to the Brazilian agriculture ministry, a highly anticipated move as the two nations continue to strengthen trade ties.

The approvals come as China seeks to increase meat imports to compensate for the death of around half of its pig herd from African swine fever.

Brazil is a major supplier to China.

In the 10 months through October, Brazilian meatpackers exported nearly $3 billion of poultry, beef and pork byproducts to the Asian nation, according to data compiled by industry groups Abiec and ABPA.

The list of units approved on Tuesday, 13 in total, features five pork, five beef and three poultry plants, according to the ministry’s statement.

Four of the facilities are owned by JBS SA or its subsidiary Seara, one is owned by BRF SA and two are owned by Marfrig Global Foods SA, the ministry said.

Industry group ABPA, which represents poultry and pork processors in Brazil, welcomed the news.

“It sets the tone of the partnership that China and Brazil are building to guarantee food security and the expansion of [bilateral] trade in the run-up to the BRICS nation summit,” ABPA President Francisco Turra said in a statement, referring to the BRICs summit in Brazil this week.

The approvals raise the total number of pork plants authorized to export to China to 16. The total number of chicken plants with permission to sell to China is now 46, ABPA said.

“Brazil is the main chicken supplier to China, and the country must now expand its pork sales (there),” Turra said.

Abiec, the beef-packers lobby, said the authorizations raise the total number of Brazilian beef plants with permission to sell to China to 37 units.

Between January and October, China imported 183,100 tonnes of pork from Brazil, a 40% rise over the same period last year, generating revenue of $429.8 million, ABPA said.

Chicken exports to China were 444,700 tonnes, a 22% rise, representing sales of $931.7 million through October, ABPA noted.

According to Abiec, Brazil’s beef export volumes to China rose by 23.3% to 319,000 tonnes through October, not including sales via Hong Kong, which are booked separately.

Beef exports from Brazil to China in the period were $1.6 billion, Abiec data showed.

Reporting by Ana Mano and Roberto Samora; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Mark Potter and Steve Orlofsky