Exports of Costa Rican beef to China increased by more than 700 percent in one year, according Leonardo Murillo, a livestock research coordinator at the Costa Rican Cattle Corporation (CORFOGA) .
From January to November 2013, the country exported $1.1 million in beef to the Asian country. During the same period in 2014, China bought $9.3 million, an increase of 707 percent, according to a CORFOGA report released this week.
Costa Rica and China signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2010. China approved the entry of Tico beef in April 2012.
CORFOGA Executive Director Luis Diego Obando said the increase in sales is due to efforts by the livestock sector to meet quality standards for imported meat, as requested by China’s government.
“The outlook is even more positive, because recent high prices in international markets caused the total value of exports from Costa Rica to increse by 31.3 percent last year,” Obando said. “This doesn’t mean we’ll be complacent, as our sector is constantly looking for ways to increase sales and to help other local companies achieve certification to enter China’s market.”
The United States remains the largest buyer of Costa Rican beef, and sales to that country increased by more than 50 percent in 2014, according to the Foreign Trade Ministry.
Other major buyers of Tico meat are: Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras and Aruba. The seven countries accounted for 85 percent of Costa Rica’s total meat sales last year. El Salvador and Jamaica, however, decreased meat imports from Costa Rica in 2014.
The increase in sales allowed for a positive trade balance for beef. In addition to increases in exports, meat imports decreased by 8.2 percent, from 4,175 tons in 2013 to 3,831 tons in 2014.