Ravenous demand from China has helped Brazilian beef sales soar to record levels, resulting in devastating environmental costs.

According to the Guardian, although the Brazilian economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains one of the largest beef exporters in the world.

Brazil supplied 43% of China’s meat imports in 2020, up 76% last year from 2019, according to consulting firm Safras & Mercado.

Sales are expected to rise even more this year, as China’s pork industry struggles to recover from the deadly swine disease, African swine fever, write Dom Phillips and Michael Standaert.

The consumption of meat in China has increased in recent decades along with the growth of its economy. Multiple consumer surveys have shown more Chinese are turning to beef after African swine fever outbreak

Heavy consumption has cleaned up half of Cerrado, the vast tropical savanna region, and 20% of the Amazon, with a devastating impact on global warming, as both are important carbon sinks, the Guardian reported.

“The Amazon provides about a fifth of Chinese imports, but in fact represents half the risk of deforestation,” explains Erasmus zu Ermgassen, a researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Since 2019, China has reportedly authorized 22 Brazilian slaughterhouses to export, including 14 in the Amazon, while four are in the sprawling Amazon state of Para, home to Brazil’s fifth-largest cattle herd.

Under Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, Amazon deforestation has peaked in 12 years, and Brazilian investors and big business have pressured the government to act.

“This is a big concern … The market should not ban Amazon’s products. It will be chaos,” says Fraga Filho, a breeder.

China has yet to express concern over the link between Brazilian beef imports and Amazon deforestation, reports the Guardian.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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