A Brazilian Slaughterhouse Turned to Europe

Slaughterhouse Mercosul, from the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, is one of the Brazilian companies that is geared mainly to export.

In the company unit in the city of Pelotas, for example, approximately 70% of produce is turned to the foreign market. Although the organization’s main clients are Russia and the European Union (EU), it has already shipped to Egypt, Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

"We have already shipped large volumes of meat to Egypt," stated the plant’s general manager, Armando Brasil Salis. The unit, purchased by Mercosul in 2005, slaughters 800 heads of cattle a day, which results in a daily production of 72 tons of beef ready for consumption. The company also performs halal slaughter, following Muslim regulations.

Approximately 750 people work at the company plant in Pelotas, but Mercosul counts on approximately 4,000 employees, according to Salis. The company has another eight units, five in Rio Grande do Sul, two in the state of Paraná, also in southern Brazil, and one in Mato Grosso do Sul, in the midwest. The organization is the largest slaughterhouse in southern Brazil. The units in Rio Grande do Sul alone slaughter over 3,000 animals a day.

The Pelotas unit is the second largest in the group. The largest, located in Alegrete, also in Rio Grande do Sul, slaughters 900 heads of cattle every day. The Pelotas plant, however, has just received investment of 3.8 million reais (US$ 1.8 million), according to Salis, for the purchase of equipment and the construction of a continuous cooling tunnel, which is already in operation.

Salis stated that it should be possible to increase the factory’s production capacity by 20% up to next year. "The company as a whole has already grown up to 30% a year on average," he said. "In the beginning of operations, we even grew more than that," he added.

Mercosul was established in 1998, and purchased or leased slaughterhouses that were closed or going broke. This year investment fund AIG Capital purchased 30% of the company, which has another four partners.

The cattle processed at the Pelotas unit come from the north of the state and from the region on the border with Uruguay. Some of the suppliers are exclusively turned to production for Mercosul, as is the case with the cattle raised by Gedeão Pereira, the owner of Santa Maria farm, in Bagé.

"The whole of our produce is turned to Mercosul," stated Pereira, who raises cattle of European breeds, like Hereford and Angus. The farm has 11,500 hectares of land and on average 13,000 heads of cattle.

The journalist from Anba travelled at the invitation of the Brazilian Beef Industry and Exporters Association (Abiec).

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