(Adds sanitary status of Santa Catarina in paragraph 4, data on global pork trade, data on Brazilian states production)
SAO PAULO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - South Korea has authorized three plants in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina to export pork to the Asian nation, opening a market in the world's fourth largest importer of this type of meat, local industry group ABPA said on Friday.
It said BRF SA, Cooperativa Central Aurora Alimentos and Pamplona Alimentos each had one meatpacking factory cleared for pork sales to South Korea.
The three plants are located in the southern Santa Catarina state, Brazil's largest pork producer and the only one in the country holding an international certificate of free of food and mouth disease with no vaccination required.
BRF said this is the first time in history that Brazilian producers will be allowed to sell pork to that country. If competitive, shipments out of Santa Catarina could fight with United States, Canada and Chile producers for that market.
In 2015, South Korea imported about 30 percent of its pork by volume from the United States, followed by Canada and Chile, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. The Asian nation imported a total of 460,000 tonnes that year worth $1.36 billion.
In 2016, Brazil's pork exports totaled 733,000 tonnes, a 32 percent rise from the previous year, ABPA data showed.
Brazil's government has a plan to gradually end foot-and-mouth disease vaccination in the country, aiming to allow other states to obtain the same sanitary status achieved by Santa Catarina and potentially boosting export prospects. (Reporting by Ana Mano, Roberto Samora and Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by W Simon and Lisa Shumaker)