The country exports millions of tonnes of animal protein every year, but these products are seldom found on supermarket shelves, something Blairo Maggi, Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, wants the industry to address fast.
“We’re a major provider of foodstuffs, but at a wholesale level, not at a retail level,” said Maggi at the opening of the SIAVS Pork and Poultry trade show in São Paulo, Brazil.
“We need to add value to our meat products, really we do, and we have to have direct contact with consumers all over the world. We need to be present on supermarket shelves, but of course there are some challenges to do this.”
The challenge is convincing the world that Brazilian meat is safe for consumption, following allegations of compromised meat quality. This claim, however, was vehemently denied by the Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA), which accused the federal police of mistakenly stating rotten meat, instead of protein past its sell-by date, had in fact been sold.
Repercussions of this crisis – and that is how Brazil described the scandal – will be felt for some time. But as Brazil still expects record-breaking exports this year, one eye is on how the country can collectively optimise its position as a meat export superpower.
Two of the country’s biggest meat processors, BRF and JBS, which collectively produce more than half of Brazil’s meat, say value-added products are essential.
“We see the future for Brazil being in value-added products and we’re investing around $200m in innovating new products to feed our global consumers,” said BRF vice-president Alexander Almeida.
This sentiment was echoed by Gilberto Tomazoni, CEO of JBS Foods, who said: “Our portfolio is highly focused on value-added product; the more value you can add, the more competitive you are.”
While the JBS executive did not disclose any plans for further expansion like BRF did, both meat processors clearly have a big appetite for producing supermarket-friendly meat.
This is likely to please Maggi, who is now encouraging Brazilian meat producers to manufacture more value-added food products as the government aims to unlock new markets and clean the country’s tarnished image.