Despite recent setbacks related to foot-and-mouth disease and the transportation challenges that come with being a landlocked nation, U.S. Meat Export Federation Economist Erin Borror says Paraguay is definitely on the rise as a beef exporter.
"Paraguay has kind of been a 'rising star' in beef export trade," Borror explains in a recent USMEF report. "Their exports will be probably close to Uruguay's exports this year and will definitely surpass Uruguay in the near future."
Paraguay's largest export market is Russia, which currently takes about 52% of its beef export volume. Other key destinations for Paraguayan beef include Hong Kong, Brazil and Israel.
Paraguay's exports to Chile are also recovering rapidly from an FMD-related market closure that began in late 2011 and lasted through 2012.
Through the first three quarters of 2014, Paraguay's exports are up 16% from a year ago to 224,535 metric tons. Export value over the same period is up 26% to $993.1 million. Paraguay recently surpassed Argentina for 8th place among the world's largest beef exports, and Borror expects it to overtake Uruguay in the near future.
Borror notes that Paraguayan exporters must rely on Montevideo, Uruguay, as their primary ocean port, moving containers of beef to Montevideo by river barge.
Exports to Chile are transported by truck, but that is also an expensive proposition. Export shipping costs are higher than Brazil, Borror notes.
Borror also said that many cattle are designed for feedlotting, and many are owned by the 11 meat packers in the country.