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Brazilian poultry for Europe

As the world’s largest poultry exporter, Brazil is a pioneer in terms of quality and product safety. With its current three-stage plan, the industry association ABPA wants to convince Europeans of the Brazilian poultry industry’s progressive nature.

As the world’s largest exporter, Brazil supplies poultry products to more than 160 countries. In 2018, the South American country exported 4.1 million tons of poultry worth 6.5 billion US dollars, most of which was chicken. Last year, Europe imported 263,400 tons of Brazilian chicken, exclusively frozen. Around 41,900 tons of this went to Germany, mainly as processed products (20,500 tons), followed by parts (16,100 tons) and salted chicken meat (5,200 tons). The main customer is the meat processing industry. “With our European exports, we are making an important contribution to supplying the continent,” explains Ricardo Santin, Managing Director of the Brazilian Association for Animal Protein ABPA.

Good reasons for Brazilian imports

Brazilian poultry can be an interesting alternative for German companies. The country has sufficient capacity to supply the German market at short notice and in line with demand.

A further advantage is the clear structure: Only 45 companies and cooperatives market the poultry, which is mostly bred on family farms. This limited number of players simplifies cooperation for German customers.

High standards apply when it comes to quality and safety. The entire production chain is regularly inspected by Brazilian and EU health authorities as well as by dozens of independent certification bodies.

Now, the Brazilian poultry industry is going one step further. In order to strengthen the confidence of demanding European customers, their industry association ABPA has invested considerable sums since last autumn to implement a three-stage plan. Their intent is to prove the extent to which Brazilians are committed to the strictest international quality standards. At the same time, the plan is designed to anticipate future quality and food safety requirements.

Three-stage quality improvement plan

As a first step, ABPA had independent experts from a French consulting company identify European needs for food safety, traceability, animal health and animal welfare. In a second step, ABPA carried out a thorough on-site analysis. Food safety and sustainability (energy management and transport) as well as animal health and welfare were reviewed.

It turned out that most animals are raised in optimally tempered stalls with a lot of daylight, have enough freedom of movement and receive nutrient-rich feed. Furthermore, the association observed that the farms have introduced sound biosecurity measures and are receiving good veterinary and technical support.

Low energy consumption is a priority in all poultry farms. Due to the good climatic conditions, farmers do not have to heat their stalls. The farms use bioenergy that comes from new plantations and not from the Amazon forests. They also use electricity from clean hydropower plants. The poultry is fed with soy and corn. Most of this feed is grown near the poultry farms.

High food safety standards have also been developed. The establishments operate in accordance with HACCP protocols. With internal controls, which are checked several times a year, they ensure that the poultry marketed is of high quality, fully traceable and meets European Union standards.

Expert committee established

In order to be prepared for the future, the ABPA set up a scientific committee in early summer consisting of four European and one Brazilian representative. The committee is an independent body developed to ensure complete transparency. Its main task is to provide scientific analysis, advice and recommendations. The committee aims to maintain existing high standards and anticipate the needs of the European market in terms of the environment, food safety, animal health, animal welfare and consumer expectations. The five committee members are:

  • Nigel Gibbens of the UK (holder of the British Order of Knights CBE), who brings extensive experience in veterinary medicine. In the past, he has held prestigious posts such as senior British veterinary officer. Gibbens is an experienced veterinary consultant who has worked both in the UK and overseas.
  • Birgitta Staaf Larsson specializes in animal welfare. She works at the Swedish Center for Animal Welfare, which reports to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Elina Asbjer, who also works at the Swedish Animal Welfare Center, cooperates closely with Birgitta Staaf Larsson and enriches the committee with her knowledge of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Marc Gehlkopf is a French expert for quality and food safety. His tasks include collaboration with producers who frequently process Brazilian poultry products.
  • Antônio Mário Penz Jr. from Brazil is the fifth committee member. His focus is on veterinary care and animal welfare in Brazil. Penz earned his doctorate in nutrition from the University of California and has held various university research positions. From 1998 to 1999 he was also President of the Brazilian Animal Society.

The committee will present the first results of its work in autumn 2019.

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