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  October 18th, 2016 | Written by

Port of Philadelphia Welcomes First Shipments of Brazilian Beef to U.S.

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  • USDA recently determined Brazilian beef may be imported into the U.S.
  • Brazil’s beef cargoes will regularly move through the port of Philadelphia to U.S. markets.
  • The port of Philadelphia is the first U.S. port of entry for Brazilian beef.

Officials of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) and other port industry leaders last week welcomed an historic shipment: the first containers of fresh beef from Brazil to enter the United States. The Hamburg Sud vessel Monte Aconcagua discharged the cargo at PRPA’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal on October 13 and 14.

Following close to two decades of negotiations between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. meat importers (with the support of U.S. trade groups), the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recently determined that fresh Brazilian beef, either chilled or frozen, now meets its standards for quality and safety and can now be imported into the United States. The initial shipment arriving at the Port of Philadelphia consists of frozen Brazilian beef.

This initial beef shipment is a product of JBS, a global leader in beef processing and one of a handful of private firms approved by the USDA for the sale and handling of the product. Initial projections point to about 3,000 tons of Brazilian meat per month arriving at the Port of Philadelphia in the coming months. The cargo will be loaded out at Brazil’s Port of Itapoa and will be transported to the Port of Philadelphia on Hamburg Sud vessels. Hamburg Sud has been a longtime ocean carrier at the Port of Philadelphia, calling on the port since 1957 and servicing several worldwide trade lanes.

U.S. manufacturers will utilize Brazilian beef for a variety of end uses, including toppings for frozen pizza and other food products containing beef. Brazilian beef, which is generally leaner than U.S. beef, will also be combined with its fattier U.S. counterpart to produce a leaner ground beef product for U.S. consumers to purchase at their supermarkets’ meat counters.

Greenwich Terminals, LLC is PRPA’s private sector partner and operates the authority’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, where future beef shipments will arrive.

PRPA officials are optimistic about this latest business development, which will build on other recent cargo successes. “I’m pleased that we, as a port community, were able to work effectively with Greenwich Terminals, trade interests like the Meat Importers Council of America, and others to help bring this cargo to the port,” said Jeff Theobald, Chief Executive Officer of PRPA. “It’s proof positive that Philadelphia is a leader in the handling of refrigerated cargoes, and this is certainly a significant cargo that we will need to handle efficiently as we work to grow the port’s cargo volumes to new levels.”

Strong working relationships with meat import interests will also encourage exports of U.S. beef abroad, as the movement of refrigerated vessels in both directions encourages cargo movement in both directions as well. With U.S. beef imports totaling $6.2 billion (1.1 million tons in product weight) in 2015 and exports totaling $5.2 billion (716,000 tons), the gap between imports and exports is expected to narrow in 2016 as higher U.S. beef supplies support increased exports and decreased imports.