By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Russia announced on Monday (November 20th) it was banning all pork and beef imports from Brazil starting December 1st. According to the Russian agro-sanitary agency Rosselkhoznadzor a banned growth hormone has been found in recent shipment of imports.
“According to laboratory results, banned growth stimulants were again detected in livestock products arriving in Russia from Brazil in 2017, ” says the press release issued by Rosselkhoznadzor.
But the Brazilian government says that the problem is only with a few companies and should not have to affect the entire Brazilian meat import segment to Russia. According to Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, a few countries prohibit the use of ractopamine in their cattle, including Russia and the European Union.
In Brazil, Canada and the United States, however, the substance is not illegal. For Maggi, the Brazilian government has monitored those companies using ractopamine in their herds and does not allow exports from these companies to go out to those countries which ban the substance.
“If any company defrauded, let pass or could not control it (substance), it’s up to them to make those adjustments,” he said to the press on Monday.
For Minerva, one of Brazil’s largest meat processing companies, however, the news is not expected to significantly affect the company’s future revenues.
“Thanks to Minerva’s current geographic diversification in South America, exports from Brazil to Russia will be replaced to other destinations and Russian demand will be redirected to the units in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, in order to nullify the effect of this suspension,” said the company in a note to investors.
Also noting that in the last twelve months ending in September of 2017 Russia accounted for only 6.6 percent of the company’s exports.
The Russian ban on some Brazilian meats comes only months after a meat-tainting scandal shook the sector. In March investigations by Brazil’s federal police revealed a scheme in which companies ‘baptized’ meats with ascorbic acid and repackaged them to sell them.
The operation dubbed “Carne Fraca” (Weak Flesh) is said to have led to revenues losses of more than US$1.5 billion and a loss of at least ten percent of the world’s meat share market.