Who’s Driving Brazilian Beef Exports?

After looking at the major sources and exporters of beef and veal, we’re turning the lens the other way around to look at the biggest importers: i.e. who is driving this demand? In the following chart, data from Brazil is used specifically, as the world’s biggest exporter of beef. 

Statistics published by the Associação Brasileira das Indústrias Exportadoras de Carnes shows that it is a number of rich countries with large populations that are ordering the most beef: China, the United States and the European Union bloc. 

China was by far Brazil’s largest import partner for beef and veal in 2022, with nearly 8 billion U.S. dollars worth of the product exported there that year (latest available data). While it may come as little surprise that China places high on the chart due to the country’s huge population size, it is a long way ahead of the other import destinations. China has been increasing its beef consumption in recent years due to urbanization, rising incomes and changing dietary habits. At the same time, Beijing and Brasilia have developed strong trade ties over the past yearsIn a World Economic Forum report released this past Tuesday, it highlighted how China made up 27 percent of Brazil’s overall export share in 2022.

Trailing some way behind China is the United States, with around 900 million U.S. dollars worth of Brazilan beef and veal exported there. The U.S. is itself a major producer and exporter of beef and principally sells most of its own beef domestically. The European Union comes in third position, with around 661 million U.S. dollars worth of imports. 

As further explained in The Biggest Exporters of Beef article, a new EU act will now demand all companies selling commodities to the countries in the bloc to prove that they have not grown produce on land that has been deforested since 2020. This highlights how conversation is shifting, from looking solely at the exporters of goods to also where responsibility lies from the purchasing nations. The United Kingdom has a similar deal in place, although The Guardian recently reported that the country was found to still be importing seven commodities associated with deforestation including palm oil, soy and cattle products.

While some observers praise such acts as a step towards protecting the planet, others say it is not the right solution since smallholder farmers who are not able to provide the data to fulfill the regulations will be pushed out of the system and suffer the most.

Infographic: Who's Driving Brazilian Beef Exports? | Statista