SAO PAULO, Nov 29 (Reuters) – J&F, parent company of food processor JBS SA said on Tuesday the meat giant is mulling new investments in Saudi Arabia as a Brazilian government delegation that includes President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva meets local officials to boost business ties.
“Every day we become more interested in exploring the possibility of making much more relevant investments than we had been thinking about in the past,” Wesley Batista, a member of JBS’ founding family, said from Riyadh, according to the statement.
J&F, which has interests in the food, mining, pulp, paper and energy sectors, said JBS has a plant in Damman and another unit under construction in Jeddah. Once the Jeddah facility is operational, JBS will boost capacity in Saudi Arabia to 40,000 metric tons of processed chicken products per year, four times current levels, J&F said.
Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East and Brazil’s main trading partner in the region, with bilateral transactions worth more than $8 billion in 2022, J&F said.
Brazil, the world’s top exporter of halal meats that are produced according to Muslim dietary requirements, is home to some of the planet’s most efficient meat exporters.
BRF, Minerva and Marfrig also sell products in the Gulf region and represent fierce competition to JBS.
“The food sector is our main area of cooperation,” Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s minister of investment, was quoted as saying in J&F’s statement.
He said Saudi Arabia wants to achieve “food security” and become a “global hub” for the meat sector.
Reporting by Roberto Samora Writing Ana Mano Editing by Marguerita Choy