Brazil took over from Australia as the largest exporter of beef to China in 2016, offering a cheaper protein, and has strong interest in South Korea and re-opening trade with Japan.
Japan suspended Brazilian beef imports in 2012 after it was found an animal had died of mad cow disease.
Indonesia has also been expressing interest for some years in opening up a live cattle trade with Brazil, with biosecurity protocols currently being discussed.
Senior analyst Adolfo Fontes told producers at the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association conference that Brazil was intent on increasing its presence in the international market, with renewed confidence given it now had access to the United States.
He said currently there was not great competition with Australia, but that could change in years to come.
“Even in China, Brazil is just sending frozen beef which goes to the processing companies there,” he said.
“Australia is more focused on chilled beef, going to the food service with a premium product.
“We can see Brazil is already doing some improvements in terms of genetics, using more feedlots, trying to increase productivity.
“So maybe in the future, in the coming 10 years or so, Brazil will be able to export premium beef in a good volume and will probably be able to compete with Australia.”
How to compete in the future
Mr Fontes said demand for beef in the international market would increase by about 10 million tonnes in 10 years, with room for product differentiation.
“In the future, considering all that is happening in Brazil, we will probably be able to be a bigger competitor in the coming 10 years,” he said.
“So Australians should think how to differentiate themselves in the future to be able to compete in a different world.”
In March it was revealed some countries had suspended beef imports from Brazil following allegations the country was processing rotten meat.
Mr Fontes said the country had about 4,800 processing plants, of which 21 were under investigation.
“Brazil was able to provide all the information, all the details around those investigations, and after one week all those countries re-opened their markets to Brazil,” he said.
“Of course there is an impact in the short term as probably in March Brazil will see a decline in beef exports.
“Going forward, I believe things will be back to normal, business as usual.”