By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Despite news that major importers of Brazilian meats were once again authorizing the return of the product to their countries, Brazilian beef imports fell by nineteen percent last week, according to the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services.
Nonetheless, Brazilian President Michel Temer said he was confident that the crisis had been surpassed. “There is still the question of the European Union. [Agriculture] Minister Blairo Maggi just told me that he would have new talks this week and next week.”
“Analysts will come here to do an examination, an inspection. But see, in a very short time, several countries that would eventually embargo [the meat] did not do so, revealing the quality of Brazilian meat,” President Temer was quoted by local news media as saying during a luncheon with members of the National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA).
According to officials Brazil’s daily meat export average fell from US$62.2 million to US$50.5 million from the third week of March to last week. In the days immediately following the disclosure of Operação Carne Fraca (Operation Weak Meat) more than fifteen countries announced they were fully or partially banning Brazilian imports. Yet earlier this week, major importers such as Chile, Egypt and Hong Kong (China) announced the lifting of the embargoes.
Official data shows that in the first four weeks of March, Brazil exported US$890.9 million in pork, beef and chicken. In the same period of last year, and with one business day less, the exports of those same products surpassed the US$1 billion mark.
Operação Carne Fraca was announced on Friday, March 17th by Brazil federal police. Investigators closed in on 21 meat packing plants accusing them of using ascorbic acid to hide the smell of tainted meat, repackaging meat with new valid dates and bribing health inspectors to report their products as safe.