SÃO PAULO – Brazil received approval for 13 additional meat processing plants to export beef, pork and poultry to China. Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina announced the agreement at the opening of Agrobit Brasil 2019.

The two countries, which have been at odds, nevertheless continue to deepen trade ties. China has increased the country’s imports of pork and other proteins to fill the void left by declining supplies of pork caused by an outbreak of African Swine Fever. For 2019, Rabobank expects pork production losses of 25 percent in China.

Presidents of major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) meet this week in Brasilia.

The Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) applauded the agreement. Brazil now has 16 plants authorized to export pork to China and 46 plants approved to export poultry meat, according to ABPA.

“In anticipation of the BRICS meeting, the news of the new qualifications sets the tone for the partnership that China and Brazil are building for food security and the expansion of the trade agenda,” said Francisco Turra, president of ABPA. “Already consolidated as the main external chicken supplier to China, Brazil must now expand its participation, also, in pork sales.”

Data from ABPA shows China is the leading destination for exports of Brazilian pork and poultry. Overall, 31.4 percent of pork and 13.3 percent of poultry exported by Brazil this year were shipped to China, according ABPA.

Brazil’s meat exports to China have surged in 2019 compared to last year. Between January and October, ABPA noted, China imported 183.1 thousand tons of Brazilian pork — an increase of 40 percent over the same period a year ago — with a value of $429.8 million, up 66 percent over the comparable period in 2018.

Meanwhile, Brazil exported 444.7 thousand tons of poultry meat with a value of $931.7 million between January and October of this year, an increase of 22 percent in volume and a 38 percent increase in value compared to the same period last year. 

The recently approved beef plants include Marfrig Global Foods in São Gabriel; Frigorífico Sul in Aparecida do Taboado; Naturafrig Alimentos in Pirapozinho; Marfrig Global Foods in Pontes e Lacerda and JBS in Senador Canedo.

Pork plants receiving approval to export to China are BRF in Lajeado; Cooperativa Central Aurora Alimentos in Sarandi; JBS Aves in Caxias do Sul; Seara Alimentos in Três Passos and Seberi.

And Zanchetta Alimentos in Boituva; União Avícola Agroindustrial in Nova Marilândia and Unita Cooperativa Central in Ubiratã were approved to export poultry products to China.

In October, China and Brazil signed phytosanitary agreements to enable exports of thermo-processed meat and cottonseed meal to China. In 2018 Brazil exported $557 million in processed beef and China imported $25 million of the product, according to the Brazilian agriculture ministry.