(Adds fresh export data)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Chinese health inspectors are expected to start evaluating four Brazilian beef plants on Thursday as part of a push to approve new meat exporters amid an outbreak of swine fever, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Marfrig Global Foods SA owns one of the plants, located in the town of Várzea Grande in Mato Grosso state, according to both sources. A third source confirmed the date of the inspection, to be carried out using video technology, but did not confirm the number of plants involved.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the inspections are not public information. The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry and Marfrig declined to comment.
Driven mainly by China, Brazil recorded a 14.2% jump in beef exports by volume in the first eight months of 2019, according to data compiled by beef group Abiec based on government data. Volumes hit 1.13 million tonnes in the period while beef export revenues rose by 7.5% to $4.3 billion, Abiec said on Wednesday.
Three of the plants selected for inspection are located in Mato Grosso state and one is in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Three of the plants belong to food producers that are not publicly listed, two of the sources said.
China is currently considering export permits for 30 Brazilian meatpacking plants, including 19 beef processors, nine chicken factories, one pork producer and one plant packing donkey meat, according to industry groups ABPA and Abiec.
Last month, Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias postponed a trip to China originally scheduled for August as industry groups said pending approvals to export meat to China were taking longer than expected. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Marguerita Choy)