(Bloomberg) -- Shares of Brazilian beef companies are plunging after a US report showed China drastically curbing imports of the red meat. 

The Asian nation, which normally relies on Brazil for a significant portion of its beef, will purchase 19% less off of world markets next year as its economy struggles under strict Covid-19 prevention measures, the US Department of Agriculture said in a report Thursday. 

JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat producer, fell as much as 6% on Thursday in Sao Paulo, the most intraday in about a year. Marfrig Global Foods SA and Minerva SA dropped over 6%.

The report comes as beef markets have been in turmoil since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains and sent prices soaring for consumers around the world. Prices for Chinese beef imports rose about 37% in the first half of 2022, USDA said.

While all Brazilian meatpackers will be hard hit by any slump in Chinese consumption, Minerva is the most exposed. China accounts for about 35% of Minerva’s revenue, and the company’s total exports are expected to decline 4% in 2023, according to Leandro Fontanesi, an analyst at Bradesco BBI. 

Brazil accounted for 38% of China’s beef imports through July of this year. China bought roughly 60% of all Brazilian beef exports in the same span. 

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