Brazil to snatch beef title

18 Feb, 2004 10:00 PM
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BRAZIL is expected to overtake Australia as the largest beef exporter in the world this year.

Agriculture Department livestock market analyst Wim Burggraaf said Australia was about ninth or tenth in world beef production but had been the world's leading beef exporter for some time.

However, this year Brazil is predicted to export 1.4 million tonnes compared to Australia's 1.3mt.

Mr Burggraaf said most of Brazil's exports had traditionally been processed and canned beef products to the EU.

But with the south of Brazil gaining provisional Foot and Mouth disease-free status under vaccination, more of its frozen and chilled beef was being exported to many Asian countries with FMD.

Mr Burggraaf said most of the world increase in beef exports had been from FMD countries as the world looked for cheaper processed meats.

Brazilian beef did not compete with Australia on the higher value beef markets, such as Japan and Korea, although it was still trying to break into the US beef market for which Australia had a 378,000t quota.

Mr Burggraaf said Brazil had an ideal climate for cattle, without droughts, 60pc lower product costs and an advanced processing sector.

He said Brazil also had a national livestock identification scheme for cattle.

"Brazil is at least as good if not better in processing beef," he said.

"Production costs are 60pc lower in Brazil and part of that is to do with lower labour costs.

"There is a big difference between the rich and poor."

He said Brazil's potential to keep increasing production and becoming more competitive could depend on political stability, combating corruption and erasing FMD.

Mr Burggraaf said Brazil's aim to become FMD free was made more difficult by having borders with FMD countries.

He said that with recent outbreaks of BSE in major beef exporting countries such as Canada and the US there would be more scrutiny of Australia's protocols and procedures.

"They might be looking for some chinks in our armour," he said.

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