April 7, 2020
Argentina's beef exports to the EU and China disrupted due to COVID-19
Exports to the European Union (EU) have decreased to near zero and sales to China has plunged compared to 2019 because of COVID-19, reported Reuters.
COVID-19 has affected world food supply chains, with low demand for meat as restaurants have shut down and movement restrictions making goods transportation an issue.
In prior years, beef exports from Argentina has boomed to US$3 billion in 2019 because of demand from China.
Official data shows sales of Argentine beef was up 50% to 845,877 tonnes in 2019, with China accounting for three-quarters and the EU 9%.
Mario Ravettino, president of the ABC consortium of Argentine meat exporters said export markets have reduced purchases because of COVID-19. The consortium represents local meatpackers.
He said China's beef imports from Argentina dropped to 15% of levels from the same period last year, when 50,000 tonnes were exported monthly to fulfill demand.
Back in January, purchasers in China had tried to renegotiate prices of Argentine exports, but the current COVID-19 pandemic has badly affected the market.
Officials from the meat industry in Argentina said the European market has seen demand drop badly. The EU usually purchases more expensive cuts of Argentine beef.
Miguel Schiariti, director of the Argentine Chamber of Meat Industry and Commerce (CICCRA) said all restaurants have been shut down in Europe due to COVID-19, with importers calling to halt all shipments.
Ravettino said there are no more shipments to the EU currently, adding that the industry is coping as best as possible by turning to the domestic market.
Beef exporters in Argentina have shifted focus back to the local market, even if its lower profit margins and reduced prices.
Argentina's key grains industry has also been affected by COVID-19, with soy exports and other crops plunging in the first quarter of 2020.