Today, BRF – the Brazilian multinational company – slaughters 7 million chickens a day, plus 34,000 pigs. BRF offers a vast product portfolio, including processed products such as lasagnas, pizzas and burgers, but much of its production is fresh chicken meat.
With presence in 120 countries, BRF is the largest chicken exporter in the world and one of the largest in pork. “But it is not only an exporting company, BRF is a company that is becoming more global in its core markets,” said Adriano Zerbini, executive manager of international corporate relations of BRF in São Paulo, Brazil.
For example, in November 2014, BRF inaugurated a processing plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which produces dozens of different processed products, all halal products, exported to the whole region of the Middle East and North Africa.
The company also has two plants in Europe – in England and the Netherlands – both of them processing products. In Latin America, BRF manufactures products such as margarine, frozen vegetables or prosciutto in Argentina.
“That’s the trend — to have a broader range of products. BRF is much more than an exporter of chicken meat; BRF is a company that is becoming more global,” he said.
Sadia is the flagship brand
Sadia is the main brand of BRF. “It’s a global brand, particularly in the Middle East, where it is very strong,” said Mr. Zerbini. Sadia, is not only for chicken, but also for processed products. In the Brazilian market, it is a brand that everyone knows.
In that part of the world, the small chicken named galeto, known by the Sadia brand, is used as a generic term. Even galeto chickens of other brands are called Sadia. The plant built in the UAE is one more step they have taken to approach the consumer. Thus, a global brand becomes local.
What is the strategy?
The strategy BRF is seeking “is getting closer to consumers, to get to know them, to present them with products tailored according to their expectations, to their desires,” he explained.
This strategy of adapting to the consumer has been very successful, especially with exports. Although Brazil is a country that internally produces and consumes chicken, its production structure is closely linked to exports. “Production in Brazil grew by incorporating the rules, requirements and tastes of foreign markets,” he said. This resulted in production growing in a flexible way, being able to meet different tastes and needs.
This feature makes Brazil very different from other major exporting countries, which are based on their domestic markets, on the demand of a specific product. “Brazil has always paid much attention to the foreign consumers and BRF has always been at the top of this movement, BRF has always been at the forefront,” Zerbini said. Thus, “today, our brand Sadia, is the strongest brand of chicken in the Middle East.”
Processing plant and export, as well as distribution in the region is the model that has been successful. The challenge is to bring this model to other regions, to get to know consumers of these other regions as well as they have come to know the Middle East.
Brazilian domestic market
What is going on with the domestic market? Total revenues of BRF vary, but 55 percent comes from the domestic market and 45 percent from exports. The company has two very strong brands in the domestic market: Sadia and Perdigão, the no. 1 and 2 of processed poultry and pork in terms of "top of mind" of the consumer.
“Our operation in Brazil does not have 'commodity' products; they are branded products, many processed products, such as lasagna, ham, nuggets; it is a growing market,” he said.
BRF has two well-known product brands on the Brazilian Market.
Could it be that foreign markets are larger than the domestic market? Consider the following: Brazil consumes 45 kg per capita of poultry, while the world average is 11 kg per capita. It is therefore clear that there is great potential outside Brazil. However, there is no doubt there is a challenge concerning access to markets, of how to bring access to chickens to those populations who are currently without it. This does not happen automatically or overnight.
BRF plans for Latin America
BRF is observing Latin America very carefully. The company is facing some issues of accessing certain markets. Zerbini said: “We would like to gain access to the Mexican and Colombian markets, and greater access to the Peruvian market with some products.”
However, BRF has a very interesting operation that encompasses the entire Southern Cone, based in Argentina. In Latin America, there is a very interesting growth potential the company is watching very carefully.
When asked if the company has purchasing plans in other Latin American countries, Zerbini answered, “BRF is a company that studies the world, which is always open to opportunities to enter new markets. It is a company that looks to the world, which grows globally, and Latin America is part of that.”