Meat packers in Brazil – the world’s biggest red meat and poultry exporter – have allegedly been selling rotten and salmonella-tainted produce.
As a result, there’s a serious possibility that big meat is joining the likes of big tobacco, big oil, and big sugar as nefarious in people’s minds.
From horse meat being sold as beef in the UK, fox meat sold as donkey meat in China, and now serious allegations of meat adulteration in Brazil, it seems that the meat industry is rarely far from a scandal.
The European Union banned imports from packing plants implicated in the scandal, while Chile, Hong Kong, and, crucially, China, went a step further; suspending all meat imports from Brazil.
While many of these countries have now removed some of these restrictions, some bans still apply and the memory of this scandal will continue to affect consumer choices.
China has continued to ban imports from producers under investigation and trust in other Brazilian producers has diminished.
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With the tender for a large amount of Chinese meat imports now effectively open for bidding, and the need for transparency paramount, US and Australian meat producers will likely be beneficiaries of the scandal in the short term.
Smaller-scale exporters like Uruguay, who are rolling out so-called farm to fork traceability on red meat, are also set to benefit.
However, in the longer term, the whole meat industry will be negatively affected by these kind of scandals and the wider food and drink sector is at risk of being painted with the corporate big bad wolf brush.