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China suspends pork imports from Brazil slaughterhouse

China has suspended importations from the main slaughterhouse of cooperative Aurora in Chapecó, Santa Catarina state, Brazil. Although no further reasons were communicated, it is likely the ban is related to fears over Covid-19.

The information about the suspension was shared last week by Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA), after Chinese communication just before New Year. The ministry said that China had “requested information on Covid-19 cases at the facility” and justified the suspension by “concerns” regarding this unit without giving further details.

The Aurora headquarters in Chapecó, Santa Catarina. - Photo: Aurora
The Aurora headquarters in Chapecó, Santa Catarina. - Photo: Aurora

According to a document available on the website of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC), the suspended unit has the registration number SIF 3548, referring to a plant of the cooperative located in Chapecó, Santa Catarina.

Strict and official protocols

The Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA) supports Aurora and provides information to MAPA that might to be necessary to send to Chinese authorities in order to reverse the situation. In a note, ABPA stated: “ABPA emphasises that this is a punctual and past situation. All information and demonstrations of good practices from the cooperative – following strict sectoral and official protocols for Covid-19 – have been demonstrated in detail to Chinese authorities.”

ABPA reiterated that there is no scientific proof of the risk of contamination of Covid-19 through food consumption. China has already carried out similar suspensions against other Brazilian slaughterhouses, including JBS and BRF, some of which have been lifted.

Suspensions of 11 slaughterhouses

Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has suspended imports of 11 slaughterhouses and 1 fish unit from Brazil, because of concerns over Covid-19 infections. Of this total, exports from BRF units in Dourados and Lajeado, Marfrig in Várzea Grande, Minerva in Barretos, Monteiro Indústria de Pescados and meat processor Agra have already been reestablished.

Currently, however, 5 slaughterhouses are still suspended by China. Among them, JBS Três Passos and Aurora Chapecó produce pork meat, as well JBS Passo Fundo, Minuano Lajeado and Aurora Xaxin, producing chicken meat.

Milestone for pork exports

Brazil has confirmed a new milestone for pork meat exports, 1 million tonnes in a single year. International sales of pork totalled 1.021 million tonnes in 2020, 36.1% more than in 2019, when 750,300 tonnes were exported. The sales reached US$ 2.27 billion, a result 42.2% higher than that achieved the year before, with US$ 1.60 billion.