Arab Chamber hears requests from beef exporters

14 de setembro de 2017

São Paulo – The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce heard the demands of companies from the beef sector and provided information to them on the Egyptian market in a meeting in the organization’s headquarters, in São Paulo, this Thursday (14). Eleven representatives from meat processing plants, associations, logistics and import-export companies received digital material containing data on opportunities currently available in Egypt.

The Arab Chamber’s CEO, Michel Alaby, talked about the transformation that the beef Egyptian market has been facing, with many purchases coming from the public sector, and the consequences of the devaluation of the Egyptian pound against the dollar for Brazilian exports. In September of last year, the Egyptian currency was worth USD 0.36. The current foreign exchange peg is USD 0.17, which impacts the importing power of Egyptians.

Despite all of this, Brazil is the largest beef supplier to Egypt, with a 50.82% market share in 2016, and has been able to maintain the volumes in the last few years, according to a presentation given at the meeting by Arab Chamber International Business executive Fernanda Baltazar. After Brazil comes India, with a much smaller percentage at 31.2%. The United States are the third largest supplier with a 12% market share.

But Brazilian meat processing plants supply to Egypt especially frozen and non-refrigerated beef. The latter is sold off of supermarkets’ shelves and holds more value. “Brazil needs to work more on that,” said Arab Chamber Market Intelligence and Commercial Department director Tamer Mansour, lamenting that he only finds a Brazilian brand in Egyptian supermarkets now and then when he visits them. Mansour is from Egypt.

The presentation also showed data on the Egyptian market for live cattle. Brazil exported to the Arab country last year USD 17.2 million worth of animals. In 2015, there weren’t any sales. Lebanon is the first Arab market for Brazil in these type of exports, with Iraq in second. The director of VB Agrologística, Valdner Bertotti, attended the meeting at the Arab Chamber and said that Lebanon wants the cattle that Brazil has, zebu, and that it has a simple sanitary protocol.

Bertotti also talked about some of the barriers to bigger live cattle sales from Brazil to Egypt, among them the local preference for the European taurus races, while in Brazil zebu breeds prevail. According to the Arab Chamber member, Brazil raises European races especially in its Midwest, far from the ports, which makes exports too costly. For foreign sales to be viable, the cattle need to be raised near a port, according to him.

In the meeting, the Arab Chamber executives discussed the actions taken by the organization after the Operação Carne Fraca to clear the issue and help Brazil recover the trust of the Arab markets. Among the measures taken were the immediate creation of a crisis committee, meetings with beef buyers from Egypt, with the Ministry of Agriculture, with Arab ambassadors, the participation in Brazilian government missions to Arab countries and the monitoring of Arab technical visits to Brazil.

The entrepreneurs presented their demands, in which they asked for the help of the Arab Chamber, such as streamlining of document clearance and issuance of credit by banks immediately after certification is issued by the Arab Chamber. The Arab Chamber's vice president of Foreign Affairs Osmar Chofhi and Foreing Trade vice president Ruy Cury, made the organization available to help solve these and other issues so members can export more. Also attending the event was the senior adviser to the Arab Chamber's president, Ramez Goussous.

Tamer Mansour told the Arab Chamber members about the ongoing implementation of digital certification for deals with Egypt, which should help streamline the document issuance process. According to him, work started two years ago and should be completed in one year. The executive also discussed upcoming actions by the Arab Chamber and which of them beef companies can join to find opportunities in the market.

Companies in the meeting included Minerva, which already holds a strong presence in the Arab market and has Saudi capital invested in it. The company’s commercial manager, Janaína Azevedo, discussed some of the issues she faces in Egypt’s market, such as the concern of importers with the exchange rate peg and their attempts to replace beef for other meats, such as poultry, which is cheaper. “We’re here to understand what can we improve on and to understand Egypt’s market better,” she said after the meeting.

Also taking part in the meeting was the export-import company Kit International, which serves the Egyptian market with some of its clients, company Plena Alimentos, which was just authorized to export to Egypt, and the Brazilian Senepol Cattle Breeders Association. “I wanted to gain a better understanding of how this market works, so tomorrow or later I may become a genetics exporter”, said marketing director Rick Arantes. Also in attendance were the companies Natural Fields, which exports live cattle and beef and has already sold product to Egypt, the meat company Dom Glutão, which is seeking authorization to sell to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Grupo JPupin, a major player in Brazilian agribusiness.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani