January 23, 2015 / 12:05 PM / 6 years ago

Brazilian meats processor BRF looks to expand in Asia

SAO PAULO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Brazil’s BRF SA, the world’s biggest chicken exporter, aims to expand further into Asia by building on a recent Indonesian joint venture with more partnerships and acquisitions, a top executive said.

“Our goal is to do in Asia what we did in the Middle East,” said Marcos Jank, BRF’s the head of corporate affairs in Brazil who will move to Singapore to become vice president of business development and corporate affairs for Asia.

BRF made 36 percent of its revenue in the third quarter of 2014 from the Middle East, where its Sadia brand has supplied poultry products for 30 years. In contrast, just 24 percent of revenue came from Asia despite a much greater population.

Asia is a huge potential market for BRF, according to Jank. Home to one-half of the world’s population, it consumes only one-quarter of the poultry that Brazil does on a per capita basis, while the global average for chicken consumption is twice what it is in Asia.

Jank singled out China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Thailand as potential markets.

BRF was formed through a 2009 merger of the two biggest local poultry and meats processors - Perdigao and Sadia. Now with a $20 billion market capitalization, it is not the first Brazilian agricultural giant with global ambitions.

JBS SA took a similar gamble and transformed itself from a butcher shop in the interior of Brazil’s center-west plains into the No. 1 global beef supplier in little over a decade.

BRF recently sealed a $200 million joint venture with Indofood to debut on the Indonesian consumer market.

“We’re looking at various other opportunities” for expansion, Jank said, mentioning commercial accords and even plant construction in the region but giving few specifics.

“What we want now is to extend the supply chain in other countries, with either Brazilian goods or local raw materials.”

“The bulk of the potential is in the poorest markets, where the middle class is growing,” Jank said. (Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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