South American beef bosses have rounded on their critics, blasting the quotas and tariffs they say prevent producers from competing in the EU.
In a joint interview with The Grocer at Anuga, Marcus Pratini, president of Brazilian beef trade association ABIEC, and Arturo Llavallol, president of IPCV, the Argentinian beef promotion institute, said the EU was the key market for their exports.
But the countries have small quotas - 5,000 tonnes for Brazil, 28,000 tonnes for Argentina - so most of the beef they sell is hit with tariffs of 176%. Llavallol said: “The figures tell us the EU is lacking production and has to import. The natural source is the Mercosur region.”
Pratini added: “We don’t want
to dump beef in the UK. We want to do business in a fair trading environment. We are simply trying to provide what you need.”
Pratini also dismissed suggestions made in recent weeks that Brazilian cattle were of a genetic type that produced beef of poor eating quality.
Despite these claims, and the tariffs, business is booming. Fresh beef exports to the UK jumped from 56,000 tonnes in the year to September 2004 to 95,000 tonnes in the year to September 2005, according to ABIEC.
Brazil’s rivals charge its producers with environmental damage. Pratini said: “We are accused of burning the Amazon to breed beef. That makes me angry. We don’t. It’s impossible to breed there because of the logistics. We breed in the centre and the south.”
The importance of the EU to both Brazil and Argentina was underlined by their strong presence in the meat halls at Anuga. But Brazil’s upbeat message - which included a big focus on animal welfare - was clouded by reports of a new foot-and-mouth outbreak.
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Julian Hunt in Cologne