HomeNewsA Pound of Flesh: Contraband Meat Wiping Out Paraguay's Farmers
NEWS

A Pound of Flesh: Contraband Meat Wiping Out Paraguay's Farmers

CONTRABAND / 6 JAN 2022 BY MARK WILSON EN

A string of contraband meat seizures in Paraguay is indicative of the way smuggling has undercut the country’s flagging domestic agriculture industry in the wake of COVID-19.

While the country legally imported 83.7 tons of meat in December ahead of the Christmas holidays, this pales in comparison to the amount of meat that constantly crosses the border illegally, mostly from Argentina. The exact amount of meat, mostly chicken and beef, being imported illegally is hard to estimate but a single seizure in December saw 15 tons of beef seized from two trucks near the border with Argentina.

Earlier in December, two tons of beef were seized near the Falcón-Clorinda border crossing with Argentina. Even police officers have been caught smuggling meat across the border.

SEE ALSO: Contraband Chinese Cigarettes Take Latin America by Storm

This flood of foreign beef has hit domestic producers hard. The Ciudad del Este Slaughterhouse Association (La Asociación de Faenadores de Ciudad del Este), which represents meat processors in Paraguay’s second-largest city, reported a monthly drop in sales of 1.8 billion Paraguayan guaraní, or almost $270,000, for the sector.

One meat producer told Paraguay's Ultima Hora newspaper that he had received threats after trying to report instances of contraband to the authorities. "I was just investigating and I received an anonymous call, telling me to stop messing with it, because even the police are paid off and I wouldn't be able to do anything," he was quoted as saying.

InSight Crime Analysis

Contraband in Paraguay has long been almost institutionalized but, coupled with economic losses due to COVID-19, it is now ravaging the country’s agricultural industry.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the United Nations reported in 2021 that the COVID-19 pandemic hurt the meat industry in Paraguay, forcing smaller workforces in meatpacking plants and driving down the cost of competing suppliers in Brazil and Argentina because of currency depreciation in those countries. 

At the same time, the cost of meat rose significantly, with the price of cattle almost doubling in 2021 compared to 2020 from $2 a kilo to $4.  This created an incentive for consumers to seek cheaper smuggled meat.

A similar trend has played out across Paraguay’s agriculture industry. Sugar smuggling from Brazil triggered a fall in legal sales from 7,000 to 1,000 tons a month.

SEE ALSO: Fowl Play - How Contraband Chicken is Flooding Paraguay

The 2 million kilos of chicken moved illegally into Paraguay monthly forced domestic production down to only 500,000 kilos a week. The country’s poultry farmer association, Avipar, estimated in September that the legal poultry market now only accounts for 30 percent of consumption. Even producers of onions and tomatoes were not safe from illicit markets, as large seizures of were made regularly in 2021.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CONTRABAND / 3 APR 2015

When subsidized products become available at supermarkets in Venezuela, networks of foot soldiers called “bachaqueros” swoop in and empty shelves…

ELITES AND CRIME / 20 OCT 2021

The killing of four young people in Paraguay’s border city of Pedro Juan Caballero has led back to an imprisoned…

BRAZIL / 20 MAR 2017

The murder of a convicted drug kingpin's brother on the border between Brazil and Paraguay is the latest indication of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…