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Port of Philadelphia accepts first Brazilian beef shipment

The Hamburg Sud vessel Monte Aconcagua is seen in Brazil, preparing to bring its first load of U.S.-bound Brazilian beef to the Port of Philadelphia. - (Photo / Submitted)

Where’s the beef? Philadelphia knows.

Officials with the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority on Thursday welcomed the first containers of fresh beef from Brazil to enter the U.S. since the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the reopening of beef trade between this country and the South American nation.

The port, as CPBJ reported last month, moved 6.09 million metric tons of freight in 2015, and is poised to grow as widening of the Panama Canal brings more and bigger cargo vessels to the East Coast.

Products from cocoa beans to cars move through Philadelphia, which is the nation’s leading import site for bananas, Chilean fruit, Australian meat and New Zealand dairy products.

But imports of Brazilian beef had been prohibited since 2003, because of concerns about foot-and-mouth disease.

Following negotiations between the USDA and U.S. meat importers — with the support of U.S. trade groups — the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recently determined that fresh Brazilian beef, either chilled or frozen, now meets its standards for quality and safety and can now be imported into the United States.

The initial shipment arriving at the Port of Philadelphia consists of frozen Brazilian beef, packed aboard the Hamburg Sud vessel Monte Aconcagua. The cargo is being unloaded at PRPA’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, which is operated by Greenwich Terminals, LLC.

This initial beef shipment is a product of JBS, one of a handful of private firms approved by the USDA for the sale and handling of the product.

Initial projections point to about 3,000 tons of Brazilian meat per month arriving at the Port of Philadelphia in the coming months, port officials said. The cargo will be loaded out at Brazil’s Port of Itapoa and will be transported to the Port of Philadelphia on Hamburg Sud vessels.

U.S. manufacturers will use Brazilian beef for a variety of end uses, including toppings for frozen pizza and other food products containing beef.

Generally leaner than U.S. beef, the Brazilian product will also be combined with its fattier U.S. counterpart to produce a leaner ground beef product for supermarkets’ meat counters, port officials said.

“I’m pleased that we, as a port community, were able to work effectively with Greenwich Terminals, trade interests like the Meat Importers Council of America, and others to help bring this cargo to the Port,” PRPA CEO Jeff Theobald said.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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