Brazil’s $60 million-a-day meat exports collapse to $74,000 amid inspection scandal
SAO PAULO – Brazil’s meat exports effectively collapsed this week, the agricultural minister said Wednesday, as several countries halted imports from the South American country in the wake of a meat inspection scandal.
Brazil is struggling to contain the scandal, in which investigators say that health inspectors were bribed to overlook expired meats and chemicals and that other products were added to meat to improve its appearance and smell. The government has largely tried to downplay the extent of the corruption, while also criticizing the federal police for how they have communicated about it.
The result has been a stampede away from Brazilian exports.
On average in March, Brazil exported more than $60 million worth of meat each day, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi told a Senate committee Wednesday. That figure was $74,000 on Tuesday, a few days after investigators revealed the probe.
That precipitous fall in exports shows how serious the crisis is and the government should not try to downplay it, said Michael Gordon, CEO of Group Gordon, a corporate and crisis PR firm.
“Even if it is a handful of bad actors, the issue is that those bad actors are tainting the entire culture of meat production in the country,” he said. “That’s why a systemic response is needed.”
The government has suspended exports from the 21 companies under investigation and noted that only a handful of 4,000 plants were involved, but that has not quelled concern abroad.
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