September 19, 2019
China opening up more Argentine beef exports: report
Argentina, which recently surpassed Brazil as the top beef exporter to China, is hoping to build on that status by getting more local meatpacking plants approved by Beijing, industry officials and other sources told Reuters.
According to data from Argentina's official INDEC statistics agency, Argentina, which traditionally exports cheaper cuts to China, saw its beef sales to the country more than double to US$870 million in the first seven months of 2019.
Chinese customs data show that amounted to about 185,604 tonnes, giving Argentine beef the top share of the Chinese market of 21.7%, ahead of Brazil's 21.03%. That volume was a surge of 129% compared to the year before.
Santiago del Solar, chief of staff to Argentina's agriculture minister, said there were many slaughterhouses up for approval and that China was working closely with Argentine food safety body Senasa.
"We will have news in the coming months about more pork, poultry and beef slaughterhouses being approved for China," he said, adding Senasa was doing some inspections on behalf of China using an "honour system."
Argentina's ranchers are not sitting still. A trade delegation is currently in China meeting with potential buyers, an industry official with knowledge of the meetings told Reuters.
The person added that a Chinese team had also recently travelled to Argentina to visit local meat plants, citing that they were "optimistic with the results", but adding that "it depends on the time frame of the Chinese."
A second person, a manager at a state-owned Chinese trading house, said he had met with an Argentine firm last week during the delegation's visit. He said it had already been approved for exports and was seeking further plant approvals.
Miguel Schiariti, president of the CICCRA meat industry chamber, said a Chinese team had also recently made a video-conference inspection of an Argentine plant alongside Senasa, with the goal of approving the facility for export.
"There are 11 meat plants ready to be approved and (the Chinese) are doing it one by one. But approval is taking a long time," he said.
"These places would meet the criteria for approval, but the Chinese have always been very cautious, despite the problems they have with pork. It seems to me that plants won't get approved before November."