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Brazil meatpackers eye US fresh beef market in 2006

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Feb 13, 2005
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Brazil meatpackers eye US

Brazil meatpackers eye US fresh beef market in 2006

By Marcelo Teixeiro

Fri Sep 9, 2005

BARRETOS, Brazil, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Slaughterhouses in Sao Paulo State, responsible for 70 percent of Brazil's beef exports, expect the United States to open its fresh beef market to the world's largest exporter in 2006.

"I think the United States will almost have to buy Brazilian beef next year," said Edivar Vilela de Queiroz, president of the Sao Paulo Beef Industry Association (Sindifrio).

"They (the U.S.) have low production and have already bought nearly all that Uruguay has to export," he added.

Uruguay is one of the few beef exporters permitted to ship fresh and frozen beef to the U.S. market.

Brazil exports cooked and processed beef to the United States in the form of corned beef for example but has long sought to open the prestigious U.S. fresh beef market.

The opening of the U.S. fresh beef market would not signify a large volume in increased exports for Brazil as it would be restricted to a U.S. fresh beef quota but it would open other high end markets such as Japan, South Korea and Canada.

Queiroz said it is a battle between the U.S. beef processor industry and the cattle ranchers in the U.S. Congress every time the consideration of Brazil's status comes up.

"The U.S. industry has a big interest in having access to Brazilian beef supplies, as they are far cheaper than those on the North American market. We could sell a good volume of beef to produce U.S. hamburgers," he said.

The U.S. government recently sent various trade missions to Brazil to visit its processing industry.

The U.S. consumer beef market is the biggest in the world and would be a feather in the cap of Brazil's expanding beef export industry.

Despite being the world's No.1 beef exporter, Brazil is still banned in 60 percent of the global beef market due to sanitary restrictions, principally due to foot-and-mouth disease.

Brazil is free of the disease but its herd of roughly 200 million head of cattle is under vaccination. Many countries require that Brazil be free of foot-and-mouth without vaccination before opening their market.

Brazil's beef exporters association Abiec said this week that beef shipments would surpass initial expectations of $3 billion in 2005.

The opening of U.S. fresh beef market "could happen. It is a possibility that always exists. Brazilian beef is cheap. They have interest in buying and we in selling," said Alcides Torres, director of Scot Consultants in the beef sector.

He added that if Brazilian fresh beef got access to the U.S. market, it would likely be successful in limited areas of the market.

Brazilian beef is cheap and very lean -- appealing to the health conscious --- but not always as tender as the U.S. feedlot fattened beef, so not best suited for some steak cuts common in the United States.

"In this way we will conquer the lower end beef market in the United States, for processing," Torres said.


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