SAO PAULO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Brazilian beef exports rose by 9.84% in January driven by a surge in sales to China, which faces fallout from a deadly disease that decimated a major portion of its pig population and boosted demand for other meats, trade group Abiec said on Wednesday.
Brazil's beef exports totaled 135,375 tonnes in the first month of the year, generating sales of $633.25 million, Abiec said.
This is a positive result and in line with our growth estimates for this year," Antônio Camardelli, president of Abiec, said in a statement.
Shipments to China alone were 53,200 tonnes, an increase of 126% over the same period last year, Abiec said. This translated into sales of $322.8 million, a 200% rise from January 2019.
Brazilian companies stand to benefit as food exporters to China because Brazil is a safe source of meat, never having had a case of bird flu or African swine fever, said ABPA, an association representing poultry and pork processors.
China reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu at a farm in Shaoyang city of the southern province of Hunan on Saturday.
Last week Brazil's largest meatpackers, JBS SA and BRF SA, said the coronavirus outbreak could help boost Chinese demand for their products, as consumers will demand more frozen and processed food products.
And just as China was trying to increase poultry production to deal locally with a drop in pork supplies, a lockdown close to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak meant that millions of chickens could starve without feed. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Leslie Adler)