Nine years after the “cow that stole Christmas” triggered a widespread shutdown of export markets for U.S. beef, Brazil’s first BSE case resulted in a much more limited and measured response from most trading partners.

The case was announced Dec. 7 – about two years after its initial detection. At press time, six countries – Saudi Arabia, Peru, China, Japan, South Korea and South Africa – had suspended beef imports from Brazil. Brazilian officials have issued a March 2013 deadline for lifting these restrictions, or they plan to pursue action through the World Trade Organization.

None of these market closures represent a devastating blow to Brazil’s overall beef trade, but the level of impact varies from market to market. Because of foot-and-mouth disease-related restrictions, Brazilian beef was already banned from South Korea, and Japan’s imports were limited to small volumes of heat-treated products. In 2012, Brazil reports exports to Japan of only 1,489 metric tons (mt), valued at about $7 million. South Africa is not a significant market for Brazilian beef, with exports totaling only 64 mt valued at $221,000.

Brazil is Peru’s largest beef supplier by volume (7,679 mt) and second to the U.S. in value ($15.6 million). However, as a destination for Brazilian beef exports, Peru ranks only 20th in volume and 29th in value.

Brazil’s exports to China had recently been on the rise, with eight plants approved to export boneless muscle cuts and certain offal products. Exports totaled 14,830 mt valued at $64.8 million – up dramatically from the same period last year.

Saudi Arabia is the most significant loss, as Brazil’s exports to this market totaled 34,396 mt valued at $157.5 million. This makes Saudi Arabia the seventh-largest market for Brazilian beef in terms of volume and 10th largest in value. (Also note that Saudi Arabia closed its market to U.S. beef following the April 24 BSE case in California, and hasn’t reopened.)