Grape sector concerned about lack of agricultural auditors effect on exports to US

Sep, 04, 2023 Posted by Gabriel Malheiros

Week 202336

The Brazilian fruit industry is concerned about a potential collapse in grape exports to the United States, its primary international destination. With the effects of El Niño in North and Central Americas, Brazilian production has exceeded those of its regional competitors. However, there is a shortage of federal auditors to inspect and release the goods.

“The limited number of agricultural auditors is a cause of concern to the productive and exporting sector, as it hinders the possibility of meeting requests, potentially triggering an export collapse,” warned Guilherme Coelho, President of the Brazilian Association of Fruit and Derivatives Exporters (Abrafrutas).

A semi-arid climate region, the São Francisco Valley accounts for 95% of all grape exports produced in Brazil, but it has only five agricultural auditors for product inspection and clearance. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Mapa), around 16,000 tonnes of grapes were sent abroad in the first half of the year, generating a turnover of $36.3 million.

See below for more information on Brazilian exports of grapes (hs 0806) to the United States between January 2019 and July 2023. The chart that follows was developed using DataLiner data.

Grape exports to US | Jan 2019 – July 2023 | TEU

Source: DataLiner (click here to request a demo)

Blackout scenario

In an attempt to temporarily address the personnel shortage, Mapa is trying to reallocate auditors from other areas to inspect grapes in the São Francisco Valley. “This measure only shifts the problem from one place to another. We understand that demand for grape exports is increasing, but other departments need to function in parallel as well,” criticized Luiz Gonzaga Oliveira Filho, representative of the National Union of Agricultural Auditors (Anffa Sindical) in Pernambuco.

Currently, about 20% of the 2,300 federal agricultural auditors are eligible for retirement. In June, the federal government announced 200 new openings to take on this role, which represents only 11.4% of the necessary new hires requested by Mapa from the Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services, equivalent to 1,700 new positions.

According to Anffa Sindical’s poll, there are now 1,200 open positions in the career that may be filled right away by hiring new personnel. “Even during the pandemic, we were exposed to this fragility and still ensured food safety in Brazil and around the world.” However, we are concerned about the possibility of a blackout. “Agricultural auditors have reached their limit,” said the union’s president, Janus Pablo Macedo.

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