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Brazilian exports of bovine meat reach record high; some headwinds looming ahead

Frozen Beef Cut With Bone
Price Trend
Fresh Whole Beef
May 24, 2022
Written by
Rene Salinas
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The value of Brazilian exports of bovine meat reached a record-high point during the first four months of 2022. However, headwinds are seen ahead as China’s Covid lockdowns slowed down demand and the US could no longer be as attractive a destination as before.

According to Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, Brazilian exports of bovine meat (fresh, chilled, and frozen) reached a record-high value of $978 million USD during April 2022, accumulating $3.59 billion during the first four months of the year. This whopping increase in export value came along with a record-high exported volume, totaling 157k mt in April and 626k mt during Jan-Apr 2022, and record-high prices, which averaged $6.21/kg in April 2022.

As for Brazilian beef export destinations, China was at the top, receiving 62% of the exported value, up by 88% YoY. China increased its share from 55% during the same period in 2021. Meanwhile, the second most important destination for Brazilian exports was the US, where export value grew by 435% YoY. The US dramatically increased its share in Brazilian exports compared to the same period in 2021. According to data from the most recent USDA report, Brazil, as of Q1 2022, became the primary exporter of beef to the US, surpassing Canada and Mexico. The US imported 104k mt of beef and veal from Brazil during Jan-Mar 2022, slightly more than the aforementioned countries in North America. In Q1 2022, the share of Brazilian beef in the US market surged dramatically compared to the previous year, from 7% to 23%.

This surge in Brazilian export volumes can be mostly attributed to an increase in global demand and sufficient production to supply the increasing consumption. In particular, US demand for Brazilian meat has increased as domestic prices for processed meat in the US remain considerably higher. Moreover, exports from Australia, one of largest beef exporters in the world along with Brazil, have remained subdued compared to their historical averages, as Australia’s production volumes are still considerably behind those from the historical highs.

However, Brazilian beef export volumes could be facing some headwinds in the upcoming months, as China’s Covid lockdowns in March will likely reflect a slowdown in Brazilian exports’ growth pace to this destination. In fact, China’s overall retail sales were reported to decline 11% YoY during April as a result of such lockdowns. Moreover, China issued temporary bans for exports from important meat packers in Brazil during April. In addition, the existing tariff-rate quota for US imports from Brazil, at 65k mt, was already filled in early April. All exported volume from Brazil for the rest of the year will be subject to a tariff of 26.4%, making the US market a less attractive destination to export. Another downward risk for exports is the relative strength of the Brazilian real compared to the previous year, trading currently at levels 14% above than those of the last trading day of 2021.

Overall, for 2022, Brazilian exports are still expected to grow in annual terms and reach a new record if they are able to circumvent the headwinds and risks mentioned in the paragraph above. Supporting these expectations are the ongoing strong global demand and ongoing high prices on the back of supply constraints. Additionally, it’s worth noting that cattle slaughter in the country is also expected to increase compared to 2021.

As of 2021, Brazil was the second largest beef (fresh, chilled, and/or frozen) exporter in trade value in the world, with a value of exports of $7.97 billion.

More on beef prices, production and trade data can be found at

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