China’s coronavirus could boost Brazil meat exports, CEOs say

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s largest meatpackers JBS SA and BRF SA said on Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak could help boost Chinese demand for their products, as it fans concerns about domestic food safety in China.

However, one executive told Reuters that sales could be held back by aggressive demands for discounts from Chinese buyers.

BRF Chief Executive Officer Lorival Luz said on the sidelines of a conference in Sao Paulo that the epidemic could boost sales of foreign frozen and processed meat products in China “for food security reasons.”

“Remember the virus supposedly started at a market in China where live animals were sold,” Luz said. “All BRF frozen and processed meat products go through food security checks in Brazil before being exported globally.”

China’s newly identified coronavirus has killed at least 133 people and spread to a dozen other countries, rattling global markets and prompting evacuations.

The virus is believed to have originated late last year in a food market in the Chinese city of Wuhan that was selling illegal wildlife.

JBS Chief Executive Officer Gilberto Tomazoni said at the Sao Paulo conference that during China’s SARS outbreak in the 2000s, China imported more meat.

China’s imports of Brazilian meat have already jumped recently after African swine fever decimated the domestic pig population.
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