Argentina beefs up meat exports to China

Global Business

Prime cuts of Argentine beef destined for export are processed in plants like Gorina, located an hour outside Buenos Aires.

CGTN’s Joel Richards reports.

Workers cut, prepare and package meat for export markets like the European Union and Russia, and increasingly, Asia.

Marcelo Fiol, who has been manager of this plant for 15 years, shows one batch that is set for China. The company said they produce a 20 kilogram box of beef every four seconds.

Gorina is a family business, run by Carlos Riusech. He said different markets demand different cuts, but that over 60% of Argentina’s beef exports go to China.

“There is a great challenge and opportunity for Argentina,” Riusech said. “When you look at the type of markets, the highest value is in the European market, the volume is in China. That is the main trend.”

Recent agreements with China allow Argentina to diversify and export higher-value cuts of beef.

The first shipments were made in June, and in addition to news of the agreement to export pork to China too, Argentina’s meat export sector is celebrating some much-needed good news.

Argentina’s economy is in recession, official figures show that May posted the first growth in economic activity since April of last year. That turnaround is largely down to growth in the agricultural sector.

While agricultural production rose sharply and offset sectors of commerce and industry which shrank- explaining the economic growth. And beef exports are expected to continue to increase.

The Argentina Beef Promotion Institute promotes its produce in China and hopes the two countries can build on the recent agreement to expand exports.

“The next step would be to work towards a free trade agreement with China, like Australia – which is a country we look to as a model,” Jorge Torelli, vice-president of the Institute for the Promotion of Argentine Beef said.

“It is not easy, we have just reached an agreement with the European Union and will take time to implement. With China, the negotiations would take time too. Hopefully, not 20 years like it took with the EU but it will be long.”

The sector still faces many challenges but Argentina’s exporters tell us they remain patient and optimistic for future deals.