The brainchild of visionary entrepreneur Alberto Romano, Mexico-based Grupo Alimentaria has in two short decades become Mexico’s leader in Japanese cuisine, establishing over 100 restaurants throughout the country and pioneering the industry of premade Asian foods. Mauricio Chan reports on the inner workings of the mid-size corporation and on the secrets behind its success.
Grupo ViBa, located in Guadalupe Nuevo Leon, Mexico, is a group of companies dedicated to the feeding, slaughter, processing and commercialization of Mexican beef products. It began operations in 1996 as a humble feedlot production center in Tamapulipas, Mexico and has grown into a $120 million empire. Firmly established in the Mexican domestic market, the company has expanded into the extremely complex Asian markets in Japan, and Korea. Recently Carnes ViBa founded a new opportunity in the Latino food market in the United States.
Grupo ViBa is a part of Impulsora Ganadera de México, S.A. de C.V. (IGAMEX), Ingeniería Cárnica Mexicana, S.A. de C.V. (ICARMEX) and Consorcio Internacional de Carnes, S.A. de C.V. (CICSA); all dedicated to the raising and commercialization of quality beef products under the brand name Carnes ViBa. The company has more than 550 employees and operates its main office in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon. Carnes ViBa also has six strategically located commercialization and distribution centers throughout Mexico and maintains more than 300 corrals and feedlots with an adjacent slaughter house, processing and packing plant.
A new $50 million production facility is in the works at Cintalapa, Chiapas in the south of Mexico for 2009. This facility will eventually employ more than 500 people and process more than 120,000 head of beef per year, significantly increasing the company´s production capacity.
Explains Tovar Flores, general director, “ViBa has become an industry leader thanks to its ability to adapt to its clients’ needs by giving the client the product they want, when and how they want it. In 1996 the market for beef products was very different. There was no premium paid for high quality products. The last 10 years have seen positive changes in the market.”
The products Carne ViBa exports to each market have a lot to with the traditions, customs and preferences of each culture. In Korea there is a clear preference for the shoulder and rib cuts while in Japan the preference is for the middle meat cuts. Both countries enjoy offal. Some pieces such as tripe or tongue may sell at prices that are as high as premium steak.
In the United States, Carnes ViBa has found a specialty niche in the Latino food market and is making a selective incursion into areas of high Hispanic populations such as Chicago, Houston and Florida. Surprisingly, it is the smaller sized portion and type of cut that makes the difference in this market. Latinos find U.S. steak portions too large. Currently export sales to the U.S. represent only 3 percent of the company´s total sales however there is a real potential for future growth in this market.
Flores quite simply describes the company’s commercialization strategy: “We send the cuts of beef to the part of the world where they get the best price.”
The great success of Carnes ViBa has been the result of innovative team effort. The Group has been able to redefine the market and position its products in the premium quality sectors both in Mexico and abroad. Through hard work and a culture of quality, Carnes ViBa has been able to modify and adapt its plants and production processes to compete in a complex and volatile global market. Flores says, “The future lies in the challenges of the international market. The beef market is more and more a globalized market and producers must work at a global rhythm. Only those producers who are prepared to compete at this level will prevail. ”
Carnes ViBa has the know-how to be a driving force in many new markets for years to come and with its new production facility in Chiapas, it will definitely continue to elevate Mexico to the position of producer of succulent beef.