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Brazil Gets Approval for 13 Meatpacking Plants for China Exports

(Adds export figures from ABPA)

SÃO PAULO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have approved 13 meatpacking plants in Brazil for the export of meat products to the Asian country, Brazilian agriculture minister Tereza Cristina Dias tweeted on Tuesday.

The approvals are a boost for Brazil's efforts to maintain its position as a major food supplier to China, which is trying to cope with fallout from African swine fever that has hit pig herds in Asia and disrupted global meat supplies.

Meatpacking firm BRF SA's pork plant in Lajeado is one of the facilities approved by China, Chief Executive Lorival Luz said on Tuesday at a company event in Sao Paulo.

The plant has capacity to process 5,000 head per day, Luz said on the sidelines of the event.

Industry group ABPA, which represents poultry and pork processors in Brazil, welcomed the news.

"It sets the tone of the partnership that China and Brazil are building to guarantee food security and the expansion of trade in the run-up to the BRICS nation summit," ABPA's president Francisco Turra said in a statement, referring to the BRICs summit in Brazil this week.

Of the 13 new plants approved, five are pork plants and three are chicken processing units, ABPA said. The remaining five are beef-packers, the ministry said in response to a Reuters query.

The approvals raise the total number of pork plants authorized to export to China to 16. The total number of chicken plants with permission to sell to China is now 46, ABPA said.

"Brazil is the main chicken supplier to China, and the country must now expand its pork sales (there)," Turra said.

Between January and October, China imported 183,100 tonnes of pork from Brazil, a 40% rise over the same period last year, generating revenues of $429.8 million, ABPA said.

Chicken exports to China were 444,700 tonnes, a 22% rise, representing sales of $931.7 million through October, ABPA noted. (Reporting by Ana Mano and Roberto Samora; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Jan Harvey/Louise Heavens/Jane Merriman)

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