The Brazilian beef industry: Just how big is it?

The scale of the Brazilian meat production and processing sector is simply massive.

Total meat exports from Brazil amounted to just short of €12 billion in 2016. The top markets for this output were: China (€1.6 billion); Hong Kong (€1.46 billion); Saudi Arabia (€1.15 billion); and the Russian Federation (€932m). Total meat exports from Brazil to China almost trebled between 2014 and 2015.

Brazilian meat beef

Brazil is home to 209m head of cattle, grazing 167m ha. The overall stocking density is 1.25head/ha. Brazil’s cattle/beef industry generates about 360,000 direct jobs.

In 2015, Brazilian beef production amounted 9.56t million carcass-weight equivalent (CWE). Total slaughterings amounted to 39.16m head. Beef exports amounted to 1.88t million CWE that year, accounting for 19.63% of total production. This was valued at €4.31 billion.

Brazil is currently the second-largest commercial beef producer in the world, behind the US. Chilled, fresh, and frozen sales account for 88% of Brazil’s beef exports. Prepared/preserved beef accounts for the remaining 12%.

Beef exports accounted for 3% of all Brazilian export revenues in 2015. In the same year, Brazil’s beef sector accounted for 14% of global beef output. The US accounted for 15% of total world output.

Brazilian meat beef

Total meat output from the EU amounted to €82 billion in 2015. The figure for beef was €26 billion, which amounted to 10.8% of total global output.

It has been estimated that 96% of all Brazil’s beef output is grass-based. Current research is focused on allowing Brazilian farmers to become more efficient – chiefly from a grass utilisation point of view. The development of paddock-based systems is now a key priority. The more intensive use of existing grassland should reduce the pressure to deforest further.

Brazil’s cattle industry is centred in the mid-west of the country, with the Matto Grosso du Sol region playing a particularly important role. Alas, drought is a major impediment to the growth of the sector. Lack of rain in the country’s most intensive livestock regions has significantly impacted beef output during the past three years.

Also Read: Brazilian beef and poultry industry plunged into major scandal