Meat imports in Uruguay experience a growth of 17.3% in 2023

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Meat Imports Increase by 17.3% in 2023

According to the latest data from the National Meat Institute (INAC), meat imports in 2023 have seen a significant growth of 17.3% compared to the same period in 2022. This data corresponds to the January-May period.

Imported Meat Statistics

During the first five months of 2023, a total of 37,398 tons of beef, pork, and poultry meat were imported, amounting to a value of US$126.7 million. The average price per ton stood at US$3,388.

Export Figures

Meanwhile, Uruguay exported 282,626 tons of meat (shipping weight) during the same period, generating a revenue of US$1,155.8 million. This represents a 26% decrease compared to the previous year. The average price per ton for exports was US$4,090.

Out of the total meat imports, pork accounted for 57.2% (US$55 million), beef for 39.9% (US$69.4 million), and poultry for 2.95% (US$2.2 million).

When measured in tons, pork imports increased by 18.3%, beef imports grew by 19.1%, and poultry imports fell by 14.3%.

In terms of value, the average price per ton for pork imports was US$2,576, for beef it was US$4,649, and for poultry it was US$2,066.

Main Origins of Imported Meat

Pork Meat

  • Brazil: 20,609 tons at an average price of US$2,566.
  • Paraguay: 621 tons at an average price of US$2,794.

Bovine Meat

  • Brazil: 12,384 tons at an average price of US$4,686.
  • Paraguay: 2,531 tons at an average price of US$4,462.

Poultry Meat

  • Brazil: 476 tons at an average price of US$2,413.
  • United States: 415 tons at an average price of US$1,103.
  • Chile: 211 tons at an average price of US$3,175.

Image source: piqsels

Uruguay continues to import pork, beef, and poultry meat to meet its domestic demand.

Types of Cuts

Among the imported meat, 100% of the pork cuts were frozen. In the case of beef, 61.4% consisted of rear quarters, 28.7% were front cuts, and 8.9% were trimmings. As for poultry meat, all imported pieces were frozen.

Previous Year’s Statistics

In 2022, a total of 81,832 tons of meat were imported, amounting to US$280,813,000, with an average price of US$3,432 per ton. This represented a 13.7% increase in imported meat compared to the previous year.

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Of meat during the same period, generating a total revenue of US$1.1 billion. This represents a decrease of 4.8% in volume and a decrease of 1.9% in revenue compared to the previous year. The average price per ton of exported meat was US$3,903.

Argentina was the main destination for Uruguayan meat exports, accounting for 62% of the total volume. Other significant markets included China, the European Union, and the United States.

Reasons for the Increase in Imports

Several factors have contributed to the significant increase in meat imports for Uruguay. Firstly, the domestic supply of meat has been unable to meet the growing demand, leading to a reliance on foreign imports. Additionally, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the meat industry, such as reduced production and temporary closures of processing plants, have also affected the availability and price of domestic meat.

Furthermore, the depreciation of the Uruguayan peso against the US dollar has made imports more attractive in terms of cost. It is expected that meat imports will continue to increase in the coming months as the domestic industry works to recover from the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Concerns and Implications

The increase in meat imports raises concerns about the future of the domestic meat industry in Uruguay. The reliance on foreign imports could have long-term implications for local producers and the economy. Additionally, there are concerns about food security and the ability to maintain quality standards when relying heavily on imports.

Efforts are being made to address these concerns, including investments in improving domestic production capacity and promoting local consumption of meat. However, it remains to be seen how effective these measures will be in reducing the dependence on imports and ensuring the sustainability of the domestic meat industry.

What factors have contributed to the significant increase in meat imports for Uruguay?

There are several factors that have contributed to the significant increase in meat imports for Uruguay:

1. Growing meat consumption: The global demand for meat has been steadily increasing, driven by population growth and rising incomes in many countries. This has led to a higher demand for meat in Uruguay, which has resulted in increased imports.

2. Product diversification: Uruguay has been known for its high-quality beef, but there has been a shift towards diversification in the meat market. Consumers are now demanding a wider range of meat products, including poultry, pork, and processed meat. To meet this demand, Uruguay has increased its meat imports.

3. Domestic production limitations: Although Uruguay has a strong meat industry, there are limitations to its domestic production capacity. Factors such as limited land availability, environmental concerns, and increased costs of production have made it challenging for Uruguay to solely rely on domestic production. Therefore, imports have become necessary to supplement the domestic supply.

4. International trade agreements: Uruguay has actively pursued international trade agreements, which have facilitated increased meat imports. These agreements have allowed for reduced tariffs and trade barriers, making it easier and more cost-effective to import meat from other countries.

5. Competitive advantage in other sectors: Uruguay has carved out a niche for itself in various industries such as agriculture, forestry, and renewable energy. As a result, some resources and investment that could have been allocated towards the meat industry have been diverted to these sectors, leading to increased meat imports to meet the growing demand.

It is worth noting that while meat imports have increased, Uruguay is still a net exporter of meat, as it has a strong tradition of meat production and exports. However, the factors mentioned above have contributed to the significant increase in meat imports to meet the changing consumer demands and overcome domestic production limitations.

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1 comment

Noe June 21, 2023 - 12:24 am

This is an impressive growth rate for meat imports in Uruguay! It’ll be interesting to see how this trend continues in the coming years and its impact on the local meat industry.


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