Imagine trying to sell your house while flames are dancing on its roof and springing from its windows. It would hardly make for an easy sales pitch.

Yet Brazil and its pig and poultry sector have faced that very challenge this week at SIAVS, the country’s largest international pork and poultry trade show, in São Paulo.

Thousands of visitors from across the world flocked to Brazil’s financial centre (and most populous city) for the exhibition.

But while the event was designed to showcase the country’s meat industry, the infernos engulfing the Amazon mean Brazil has instead become embroiled in a literal and figurative firefight.

Despite the challenges facing the country, however, Brazil is not one to take criticism from overseas lying down – as reflected by President Bolsonaro’s rebuke of the G7’s intervention on the Amazon fires earlier this week. And it’s a position that’s been echoed by Brazilian pork and poultry industry body ABPA, with marketing director Ricardo Santin on the front foot when it came to defending his sector against accusations it might have been culpable in those fires.

ABPA data showed more than 80% of Brazil’s chicken and pork production sits in the country’s southern-most states, he claimed, some 2,000 miles south of the visions of hell in the Amazon. Likewise, the feed used in these production systems was grown close to the farms, rather than in deforested areas, he added.

Pilgrim’s Pride move for Tulip shows US has UK meat sector in its sights

While not a vindication of the entirety of Brazilian agriculture (these statistics do not include cattle farming) this demonstrated that not all Brazilian produce spelled environmental disaster, he insisted.

Which is just as well. Because Brazil – the world’s biggest exporter of poultrymeat and beef, as well as the fourth-largest producer and exporter of pork – has designs on expanding into the British market after Brexit.

The country was “available to become partners” with the UK, and would “complement” rather than step on the toes of local industry, Santin insisted – on the same day US poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride (owned by Brazilian giant JBS) snapped up UK pork processor Tulip.

UK poultry and pork producers are, however, unlikely to be reassured by this, having previously raised concerns about cheap meat imports. It might also be a concern for British consumers, who are asking increasingly tough questions about the environmental and animal welfare implications of the meat they eat.

With the fires raging in the Amazon, Brazil doesn’t exactly have the most compelling story to counter such concerns. Despite the charm offensive at SIAVS, convincing Brits that Brazilian meat products are truly sustainable could be as big a challenge as putting out those fires.