China and Brazil to Launch Pilot Scheme for Sustainable Beef Traceability

China, the world’s largest beef importer, and Brazil, the biggest supplier, have agreed to set up a pilot scheme as part of efforts to make beef production more sustainable, according to state media reports.

The State Administration for Market Regulation in China has met with Brazilian institutions to discuss methods to ensure transparency in the beef supply chain and establish a cross-border traceability platform, state broadcaster CCTV reported. However, the report did not provide details on the timing of the implementation.

The countries have agreed that a unified global standard would be central to the traceability system, which would also help combat counterfeit beef.

Beef is considered one of the most emissions-intensive forms of food, especially in Brazil, where agricultural production has been linked to the clearance of carbon-trapping forests. Cattle ranching in Brazil is responsible for nearly 24% of global annual tropical deforestation and approximately 10% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the environmental organization The Nature Conservancy.

While Chinese companies have traditionally prioritized price over sustainability, there are signs of a growing interest in greener supplies. In contrast to consumer-led sustainability efforts in the West, China’s shift is driven primarily by policy signals and investor pressure.

However, traders and sustainability analysts warn that higher costs and logistical challenges are likely to limit demand for sustainable goods in the near term.

China imported 2.74 million metric tons of beef in 2023, with more than 40% sourced from the South American producer, according to Chinese customs data.

The pilot scheme between China and Brazil represents an important step towards addressing the environmental impact of beef production and establishing a more transparent and sustainable supply chain for one of the world’s most important agricultural commodities.

China and Brazil to Launch Pilot Scheme for Sustainable Beef Traceability
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