JBS opens new beef plant in Brazil as domestic prices rise

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA is opening a new beef plant in the state of Mato Grosso to cater to the domestic market, the chief executive officer of its beef division Friboi told Reuters on Friday.

The move comes as beef prices reached record highs last year amid a surge in Brazilian exports to China after an outbreak of African swine fever there that has reshaped meat trade flows globally.

Friboi CEO Renato Costa said JBS invested 70 million reais ($17.18 million) in its 37th Brazil-based beef unit, which is located in the town of Brasnorte. The plant can process 500 head of cattle per day.

Costa said JBS may make further investments in the Brasnorte plant in the future but did not elaborate.

In a separate statement, JBS said Joanita Karoleski had decided to step down as chief executive of the Seara processed foods division to focus on personal projects.

Seara posted net sales of almost 20 billion reais ($4.92 billion) in the 12 months ended in the third quarter, accounting for some 10% of JBS’s sales.

Karoleski will be replaced by Wesley Batista Filho, the 28-year-old grandson of company founder José Batista Sobrinho. Batista Filho will also keep his role as chief executive of the JBS Brasil division, the statement said.

Reporting by Roberto Samora and Ana Mano; Writing by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Steve Orlofsky