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.
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 tons of chicken in export markets last year, down 5.1% from 2017. Pork exports fell by 7.4% in 2018, to 549,000 tons, according to the data.
Chicken exports picked up in the final six months of 2018, averaging 377,300 tons 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-ton average monthly level through the end of 2020.
Brazil’s chicken exports brought in US$ 6.57 billion in revenue last year, down 9.2% from the 2017. Pork sales generated revenue of US$1.11 billion, a sharp 24% 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.