Saudi Arabia: At Saudi Food, importers seek Brazilian beef

Brazilian cattle: embargo is still in place

São Paulo – Arab importers visiting the 18th Saudi Food, Hotel & Hospitality Fair, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are interested in buying Brazilian beef, but are stunted by an embargo on the product. A solution is being negotiated and the market may be reopened in coming months. The Saudis visiting the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce stand are also interested in chicken and coffee. Alongside the Arab Brazilian Chamber, other organisations present at the fair include the Brazilian Beef Industry and Exporters Association (Abiec), the Brazilian Poultry Union (Ubabef) and the Brazilian Halal Food Centre (Cibal Halal) as well as Sunfield General Trading.

According to the international business executive at the Arab Chamber, João Paulo Paixão, the Saudis want to buy Brazilian beef and to know when the embargo on the Brazilian product will be suspended. “They say that they are paying dearly for the Australian beef or else buying buffalo meat from India, which are options to the Brazilian product,” said Paixão.

In late 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture disclosed the information that a cow carrying the agent that causes mad cow disease had died in 2010, without developing the disease. This year, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) maintained the status of “negligible risk” for Brazilian beef. However, over ten countries, including Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have suspended purchases. Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture met with representatives of these countries to end the embargo. Notwithstanding, meat exports grew in 2013.

On Monday (20), the government relations manager at the Arab Brazilian Chamber, Tamer Mansour, and employees of the embassy of Brazil in Saudi Arabia, met with representatives of the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) to discuss a solution to the embargo. “This meeting was essential. It was decided that in September a Saudi delegation will visit Brazilian plants that produce the exported to Saudi Arabia and that the embargo will then be suspended, “said Mansour. At the meeting, attended by Cibal Halal, Ubabef and Abiec, other topics were also covered, including documentation required of Brazilian plants producing meat for export to Saudi Arabia.

Other interests

According to Paixão, the Saudis also want to buy chicken from Brazil, a product in which the country is already a great Brazilian client, and they are also interested in coffee. “They showed great interest in coffee and said they want more chicken. There are opportunities for midsized Brazilian companies and also for the large ones that are already consolidated here,” said Paixão. Opportunities in the country are not, however, restricted to the food industry, said the business executive.

“The Saudis do not know very much what Brazil produces. They do not know we export many products, beyond commodities. They have large projects to diversify their economy, especially in infrastructure and transport, and there are opportunities to be exploited,” said Paixão, who, alongside Mansour, participated in a meeting at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said that the Saudi government will soon open bids for public works in which Brazilian companies may participate. Paixão also said that, in the medium term there is also a chance for business to result from inquiries made at Saudi Food. The fair ends on Wednesday (22).