Following Brazil’s latest meat scandal, Temer called a meeting in the Presidential Palace with the country’s main beef importers. In the middle of the conference, Temer invited the foreign ambassadors to enjoy some “Brazilian beef”. Alongside Ministers of Agriculture and Commerce Blairo Maggi and Marco Pereira, Temer emphasized that “among over 11,000 employees in the meat sector only 33 are under invetigation, and of 4,837 freezer warehouses, only 21 have presumably violated regulations.”
Soon after, the president took his colleagues to Steak Bull, a Brazilian barbecue restaurant close by.
However, Brazilian newspaper Estadão revealed shortly afterward that the restaurant serves “only European, Australian, and Uruguayan meat“. According to one of the restaurant managers himself, Rodrigo Carvalho, the concept of “Brazilian” barbecue is simply a marketing ploy.
“Our meats include red Angus, Australian, and Uruguayan ramp steak. We don’t serve Brazilian meat,” says Carvalho. “We don’t use national brands because their quality has fallen over the last three years.”
Temer’s press council immediately sent a note to the newspaper clarifying that “all the meat served on Sunday... were of Brazilian origin.”
But the fact remains that many Brazilian restauranteurs already knew about the increasingly questionable quality of national meat brands. Now, as the police continue to lock up corrupt meat producers and health authorities, the public and foreign exporters know too.
Brazil’s rotten meat
Brazil exports its meat to over 150 countries. The principal importers of Brazilian meats are China, Japan, Saudia Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Kuwait, Venezuela, Chile, Russia, and Egypt. In the last year, Brazil made $5.9 million in chicken exports and $4.3 million in beef exports. But with the latest scandal, Brazil’s meat profits may be in danger.
Brazilian police launched Operation “Carne Fraca” last Friday to scourge the agribusiness of corrupt meat producers. Turns out producers were filling their meat with cardboard, while inspectors were letting poor quality meat slide into the market. Major industry leaders JBS and BRF lost $2 billion in a single day. Other meat producers not involved in the scandal also experienced multi-million losses. But to foreign importers, unfortunately, Brazilian meat is all the same.
Only in recent years has Brazil achieved a trade deal with the U.S., following nearly two decades of negotiations. That deal may be off the table, now that Brazil’s meat scandal has made the international news.