Brazilian meat exporters looking to sell to China are facing stronger competition from US companies amid a lack of new export permits for suppliers based in the South American nation, said an executive at food processor BRF SA.
Chinese authorities have not issued new permits since the COVID-19 pandemic broke, according to Luiz Tavares, manager of institutional relations at BRF, the world's biggest chicken exporter.
"I hope we can make progress on this issue," he said during an online event on Brazil-China relations. "We are missing out."
Tavares acknowledged that Brazilian meat exports to China remain strong overall, but complained that the country is losing business to US competitors, especially on the chicken trade.
According to Tavares, the United States was barred in 2015 from exporting chicken to China because of concerns related to avian flu. But that suspension has since been lifted and they remain an agribusiness superpower.
"Suddenly, we have the United States accessing the Chinese market with permits for more than 1,000 plants while Brazil has had no new permits for almost two years," the executive said.
Brazil's ambassador to China, Paulo de Mesquita, said during the same event that the pandemic affected the process of certification of new Brazilian slaughterhouses willing to sell to China.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, the approval process has been suspended," he said. "It's been over a year and a half that we haven't had approval of any new plants," Mesquita said.