Brazilian beef exports take a hit as scandal breaks

Scandal at Brazilian beef packing plants has turned the global beef trade upside down.

Nevil Speer

March 30, 2017

2 Min Read
Brazilian beef exports take a hit as scandal breaks

Last week’s news that Brazilian officials had raided multiple meat processing facilities over quality scandals has certainly created a stir for world beef and poultry trade. The raids stemmed from an ongoing 2-year investigation called “Operation Weak Flesh” of key Brazilian packers BRF SA and JBS SA in which individuals allegedly provided bribes to governmental health inspectors.

The international response was swift. Due to concern regarding safety and wholesomeness of beef and poultry sourced from Brazil, many of Brazil’s export partners immediately suspended trade until further notice. Brazilian officials are working hard to provide some reassurance around the situation and reestablish commerce continuity.  

Surprisingly, though, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Chile and Egypt have already lifted their suspensions and are once again allowing product into their countries. Meanwhile, many countries have implemented only partial bans – that is, product from specific plants will not be allowed into the country.  

To that end, this week’s graph, adapted from Global AgriTrends, highlights Brazil’s 10 largest beef customers from a tonnage perspective. Additionally, the graph also depicts the percentage of beef sourced from Brazil for each country respectively. For example, Hong Kong imported nearly 275,000 metric tons from Brazil – representing just over half of Hong Kong’s total beef imports. 


The situation will require some time to play out. Nevertheless, Brazil’s shortfall will certainly create an opening for other exporters to try to get a foothold in some of the key markets.

What do you make of this situation? How do you see it playing out in the weeks and months to come? Do you foresee the U.S. beef industry making gains in replacing some of the Brazilian product, or will those customers likely turn to alternative sources like Australia? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
BEEF Magazine is the source for beef production, management and market news.

You May Also Like