Beef and its co-products

Deforestation linked to the beef sector around the world

According to Henders et al. (2015), cattle breeding is responsible for 60% of tropical deforestation. This responsibility is concentrated in Latin America, the continent where the weight of the agricultural sector in deforestation is also the highest (71.5%), according to De Sy et al. (2015). Three forest biomes are affected by ranching: the humid forests of the Amazon, the semi-deciduous forests of the Cerrado and the dry forests of the Gran Chaco.

A cow
Crédits : ©Brina Blum - Licence Unsplash Agrandir la figure 112
A cow

Image representing a cow

European and French imports

Brazilian meat export flows to Europe show that when Brazil entered the world market at the turn of the 2000s, the European Union was the leading market for Brazilian beef. It is through this market that exports took off, before being taken over by Russia, then Hong Kong and more recently China. The Champion et al. (2013) indicates that if beef production costs are half as high in Brazil as in France, customs duties and exchange rates limit the competitiveness of Brazilian exports, which has become less true since the pandemic for the last parameter given the depreciation of the real against the dollar and the euro.

The European Union (excluding the United Kingdom) imported more than 1.6 billion euros of beef in 2019. The Mercosur countries are the main suppliers of beef to the EU (almost 1.2 billion euros). euros in 2019). In volume, Brazil (second supplier behind the United Kingdom) represents more than 35% of beef imports into the EU and Argentina more than 25%. 97.2% of French imports come from other European Union countries, only 0.5% from Brazil.

These figures show the high concentration of origins of meat imported outside the EU.

However, it should be remembered that beef production in these countries essentially serves local consumption (more than 80%).

Sector initiatives for zero deforestation

In Brazil, to combat deforestation, a first objective was to bring all farms into legality through a system of mapping farm boundaries and forest areas. There is also the Driving Adjustment Term (Tac), a voluntary agreement signed between these private operators and the Ministry of Justice. This Tac leads companies to set up information systems, where each supplier is listed by its CAR number. Before each transaction, the buyer checks if no illegal deforestation has been confirmed at his supplier, if no violation of the labor code has been observed and if his operation is not located in a protected area. Other initiatives and standards of zero deforestation in livestock exist such as the Xingú Meat Initiative,

This information comes in particular from the work of AFD’s Forest Scientific and Technical Committee.