Brazilian beef cattle

Brazilian beef exporters expect China to drive the nation’s shipments to a record in 2019.

Mainland China is seen increasing purchases by 30 percent next year to 431,000 metric tons amid booming demand, as the Asian nation moves to a more consumer-driven economy, Antonio Camardelli, head of industry group Abiec, said Tuesday in Sao Paulo. More Brazilian slaughterhouses should soon get the go-ahead to supply China after an inspection concluded last month, adding to the 16 units already approved, he said.

Brazilian shipments will climb by 11 percent in 2019 to a record 1.8 million tons, also boosted by the resumption of exports to Russia after a yearlong ban and the likely opening of new markets including Indonesia, according to Abiec. Export revenue is seen rising by the same rate to $7.26 billion, also an all-time-high.

China is the world’s fastest growing market for beef thanks to an expanding middle class that can afford more protein. Its imports have almost tripled since 2014. That created an alternative route for Brazilian supplies that aren’t allowed in some of the world’s largest markets including Japan and the U.S. because of sanitary restrictions.

Brazilian beef exports rose 10 percent this year to 1.48 million tons. China and Hong Kong accounted for a combined 44 percent of total shipments.