While Brazil’s pig farmers are facing rising feed costs and other international financial challenges along with the rest of the globe, they are better placed to ride out the current international turmoil than producers in many other parts of the world — and they are already planning to expand their markets in 2013.

“We are fortunate in that our producers are close to some of the best grain-growing regions in the world and we have a large, stable domestic market for the pork we produce,” said Pedro de Camargo Neto, president of Brazil’s Association of Pork Exporters (ABIPECS).

Speaking exclusively to Pig International, de Camargo Neto said that while Brazil is the world’s fourth-largest producer of pork (around 3,300 million metric tons per year), it only exports 18 percent, as about 2,700 metric tons is consumed locally. “Of course, we are also suffering to some extent from the pressure of higher prices for soya, maize and other grains, because they are part of an international pricing system, but we are currently protected by this large, strong local market for our product," he said. "And we are having a difficult year this year, compared with previous years.

“However, we are expecting to grow in 2013 and hope to expand our export market, particularly to China, which is the ‘big prize’ for all pig-producing countries in the West. We are also expecting a continued strong domestic market, which has remained relatively stable for several years.”

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The country’s export trade is mainly directed towards Russia, the Ukraine and Hong Kong, where it saw an increase of 45.98 percent in volume and 38.47 percent in revenue in September, compared with the same period in 2011. "Now we have also won approval for the Chinese market, and although we are currently just exporting small quantities directly to the country, we hope that these quantities will increase significantly from next year onwards,” said de Camargo Neto.

New markets in Europe aren't expecting the same kind of growth. “We are still waiting for sanitary approval for Europe," said de Camargo Neto. "It seems to be taking a long time to get it. But even when we are approved, I imagine our exports there will be limited by quotas, so we do not expect huge growth in that region.”

Overall, de Camargo Neto said he is confident about the way the sector is developing in Brazil. Producers and breeding companies are “more or less up to date” as far as genetics are concerned, and are also quite advanced in the move towards modern, hi-tech equipment. “We have made a lot of progress in this area, but there is still room for the international companies to introduce the latest systems into the country to help producers to continue to improve production,” he said.