China beef consumption is the large driver of Argentine exports

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Buenos Aires, April 15th. People at the beef, pork and poultry industries are really very enthusiastic about the future, due to the Chinese expected rising demand.

According to the USDA analysis, Chinese beef imports would increase from 0.42 metric tons (carcass weight equivalent) in 2014 to 1.68 MT this year, while swine meat imports would growth from 0.76 to 2.20 MMT in this lapse, and poultry imports from 0.26 to 0.58 million tons. This meaning to pass from 1.44 MT of meat imports in 2014 to 4.46 MT during 2019.

As Argentine pork sector is still replacing imports for local production and poultry industry is hacked by a long term crisis, beef industry is the only chain that is able to show a steady increase in its exports.

According to the AgroIndustry secretariat, in 2018 total beef exports climbed to 0.56 Mt from 0.31 in 2017. But in 2019 first two months, exports reached 0.99 MT, versus 0.68 MT in 2018, i.e. a 46% increase YoY.

The monthly report from the IPCVA (Beef Promotion Institute) explains that during the first two months of the year, China bought 44,059 tons from Argentina from 22,808 tons in 2018. The Asian country is the largest Argentine beef importer, while the second one, Chile, only bought 4,822 tons in this lapse.

According to the IPCVA’s statistics, China represents now 68% of the beef exports and its imports from the country grew 93% since 2018. China is buying cheaper beef cuts than Germany, for example, that only purchased rump and oil. The average ton price of beef exported to Germany rounded 9,076 dollars, versus 4,135 dollars to China.

But, in the other hand, the beef exported to China is wiping the Argentineans table. As beef production remains stable, domestic consumption has dropped to 52 kg/head/year in February, versus 59.2 kg a year ago. But beef industry released to the media a brief showing that during March consumption drilled the floor of 50 kg/head/year.

As local wages are in a continuous deterioration (in dollar basis), Argentineans are replacing beef for swine or poultry meat. If sometime Argentineans eaten near 100 kilograms per capita, now they replaced a half of them for cheaper meats.