America’s meat-processing woes opened a window for importers and Argentina pounced.
Beef shipments to the U.S. from the proud South American ranching nation jumped to 1,290 metric tons in April, the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. A year ago, U.S. importers bought a measly two tons.
April is the same month that outbreaks of Covid-19 among U.S. meatpacking workers triggered a wave of shutdowns that tightened local supply and sent prices rocketing.
To be sure, Argentine beef exports had already begun to
Exporters needed time to set up distribution networks to supply top-end American restaurants, hotels and caterers, which wanted quality cuts, said Miguel Schiariti, president of Argentine beef industry and trade group Ciccra.
Shipments started flowing in the second half of 2019, but they surged in April amid the American processing logjam. While U.S. plants have reopened, they are yet to return to full capacity. Argentina accounts for just 1% of total U.S. imports.
“Argentina was able to take advantage of the supply shortfall,” Schiariti said. “This could be an opportunity to plant a flag.”
Even under President
Some anecdotal evidence lies in the arrival this week of almost a hundred rabbis from Israel to certify Argentine plants as kosher,
Neighboring Uruguay also benefited from shortages in the U.S., said Marcelo Secco, head of meatpacker group
While Brazilian shipments to the U.S. doubled in May, the volume was still small at 277 tons compared with a record 83,942 tons shipped to China, according to Economy Ministry data. Still, exports to the U.S. may keep growing given Brazilian fresh meat only recently regained access after safety concerns dating back to 2017.
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