Four major Brazilian meat plants have been suspended from exporting to China, due to concerns about Covid-19 cases among its workers.
According to a statement from the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, China has suspended imports from three slaughterhouses, while another plant had sales suspended at the initiative of the Brazilian authorities.
“China’s health authorities have shown concern at the record of a new Covid-19 outbreak near Beijing and have been monitoring companies exporting to China around the world,” the Ministry of Agriculture said in a note.
In total, there are 102 Brazilian slaughterhouses authorized to sell to China, the biggest buyer of Brazil´s meat products.
The government did not indicate, however, which factories had their permits suspended. The withdrawal of export licenses to China occurs amid an increase in cases of Covid-19 among Brazilian slaughterhouse workers.
According to Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico, licenses were taken from a slaughterhouse operated by Agra in Mato Grosso do Sul state and a JBS slaughterhouse in Passo Fundo (Rio Grande do Sul state), which produces chicken meat.
More slaughterhouses will have exports to China suspended in the coming days, according to the newspaper.
Globo TV adds that another of the plants banned was Minuano, in Lajeado.
Francisco Turra, president of the Brazilian association of Meat Exporting Industries´, says there are no health grounds for the suspension and is asking the Brazilian government to negotiate with China so that meat can be inspected at Chinese ports upon arrival.
In the poultry and pork sectors alone, Brazilian exports to China may surpass 1 million tonnes in 2020, compared to 834,000 tonnes shipped last year, according to the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA).
Chinese health officials have warned Brazil to automatically suspend all exports from companies that are affected by Covid-19 cases.