ASA Alimentos has positioned itself as a company of note in the Brazilian food industry. Helen Larkin investigates how this giant has arrived at the forefront of both the Brazilian egg and meat industries at such an accelerated rate.
The ASA Group, with over 40 years of experience in aviculture and 20 years experience in livestock, is a market leader that is firmly grounded in the field throughout Brazil. It has become one of the principal producers of not only eggs for incubation but of chicks as well, with a productive capacity that exceeds 16 million fertile eggs per month. Part of this product is exported internationally.
The company is active in all aspects of the productive chain, and is recognized internationally for the results of its production, the quality of its products and services, by the capacity of its workers and partners, and its success rate.
A VIBRANT HISTORY
“ASA Alimentos has a long and deep identification with the history and the development of poultry in the DF and Goiás and, more recently, with pig farming,” says Vice president Sergio Araujo.
The company was created in 1994 but its key players have over 40 years of experience in the Brazilian agribusiness sector. Soon after the founding of Brasilia, the new capital, engineer Aroldo Silva Amorim saw his chance to fill a niche in the local production of chickens and began to utilize the brick structures available during construction to create Brasilia’s first chicken farms.
“This enterprising vocation possessed by our founder really propelled the company forward – it quickly began to grow and diversify,” says Araujo. Only a few years later, his bird production processes dominated the market, and included every step of the process from incubation to diverse cuts of chicken, marketing and distribution. In 1994, the original company split and thus began ASA Alimentos under its current name. The founders’ expertise allowed the company to quickly grow and operate in every step of the productive chain, from the launch of its frozen food brand, Bonasa, to expanding its productive area with units in São Paulo (incubator); Pará, and Tocantins.
ASA’s units are located in the federal district of São Paulo, in Goiás, in Tocantins and in Pará. “Today,” says Araujo, “we have one slaughter weekly of 100,000 birds and this number will increase next year to about 185,000 birds per week. There has already been great progress in the expansion – all that remains to be built is the aviaries.
“We are finishing the studies for construction of a new plant with capacity for 150,000 birds per day,” adds Araujo. Located in the Federal District, however, the plant’s current capacity for slaughter is 3,250 animals per week, with investments planned to increase this number to 7,200 per week in the coming year. The plant currently only supplies the domestic market, but is gearing up to export internationally in the coming year. As for a total productive capacity, ASA today has a total production of four million fertile eggs per week.
In addition to investments in its productive capacity and facilities, ASA has focused with equal vigor on its management and administration. In order to support and keep up with its growth, the company has re-structured its units and sought forward-thinking partners in the field. It has also invested heavily in corporate governance, improving its processes and making its every action more transparent and accountable to its shareholders.
“In a sector as competitive as ours,” says Araujo, “there is a constant focus and questioning of cost and this must necessarily be our daily concern. We constantly analyze the behavior of the market, the movement of our raw materials, and the positioning of our products.” This culture is spread in all the structure of ASA. Based on this research, the company has made many well-thought-out advances, including the investing in the BONASA brand, developing new products, attractive packaging, forward-thinking merchandising and movement in points of sale and trade activity.
“This sector is faced with many difficulties,” says Araujo, “but we have worked to prioritize and eventually overcome them.” The tension of whether to focus on exportation or to remain primarily a domestic producer and supplier is always present in any company of this size. “We are researching and planning to export our meats just as we do our eggs,” says Araujo. “This takes a great deal of planning.
“Yet another great difficulty in our field in Brazil is the high price of the raw materials needed in our chain of production,” says Araujo. In order to stay competitive while keeping down the cost of basic materials, the company needs to keep a careful eye on this market. “And then there is the tax burden,” he continues. “From our point of view, this requires constant analysis, as in our sector, taxes play a big role. It is also a burdensome process – as we operate in so many different states, there are constant changes occurring between different states, in different time periods.”
ASA considers its key differential to be its success in producing such a variety of products – from fertile eggs to frozen food – while not sacrificing the integrity of any individual one. The company is strategically located to market and ship these products. In Tocantins the company is strategically located to market and ship these products, due to its location on a major federal highway, extending across diverse states within Brazil. Other ASA locations possess equal strategic advantage, and the company is always striving to locate itself centrally to the consumer market.
QUALITY AT EVERY TURN
With a primary focus on the Brazilian market, ASA’s product line has a strong presence in the markets of Brasilia, Goias and Tocatins in particular. The company has recently also begun to cater to the markets of North and Northeast Brazil, in particular to the cities of Belem, Manaus and Rio Branco.
Although it is relatively new to food processing, ASA has continually invested in new technologies to adjust to the profile of its consumers and has managed to position the BONASA brand as a rival to any of the older more established brands.
“There have been numerous technological advances in the fields of meat as well as frozen foods in the past decade,” says Araujo, “and ASA has been there to take advantage of and incorporate many of them into our daily processes.” The company is currently in the process of planning major investments for the coming years. Additionally, ASA is looking to expand and improve upon its product range, including researching different cuts, presentations, and preparations of its meats.
THE LAUNCHING OF A BRAND
ASA has positioned itself as one of the largest Brazilian egg production companies. The company is also making strides in the cold food sector, following the launch of its BONASA brand in July of 2005.
Today, BONASA has gained a prominent position in the markets of DF, Goiás and Tocantins, leading the sector with items such as frozen chicken. The company’s product portfolio includes a total of 74 items, found in major supermarkets across Brazil and at more than 6,000 points of sale.
The BONASA brand is also sold in the markets of Pará, Amazon, Acre, Maranhão and Piauí where product is delivered by an extensive network of representatives. The cold storage bird room located in Tocantins supplies these markets with most of the poultry cuts. A portion of production is still commercialized for the markets of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo. BONASA distinguishes itself with the highest quality products and an unrivaled focus in the retail market.
ASA has great plans for expansion, increased exportation and technological advances on the horizon. Says Araujo, “We have big plans, and know how to achieve them.”