During the 1960s and 1970s, the meat-packing industry developed appreciably, with meat and related products constituting Paraguay's most important single export. Since the late 1970s, however, market conditions for beef exports have deteriorated, and the value of exported meat products has declined significantly. Exports of livestock and livestock products typically account for 7% of total exports and in some years comprise as much as 14%. In 2001, livestock sector exports (live animals, meat and dairy products, eggs, hides, and animal fats and oils) amounted to almost $76.4 million. About 70–80% of beef exports are sent to Mercosur countries.
In 2001, livestock totaled 9,889,000 head of cattle, 3,150,000 hogs, 406,000 sheep, and 358,000 horses. There were also an estimated 15.4 million chickens that year. Beef production was about 250,000 tons. Other livestock products in 2001 included 331,000 tons of cow's milk and 70,000 tons of eggs.