Look to pork farming. One of Brazil's names in pig production has introduced its own brand of pork cuts and is biting off a bigger part of the market. Reuben Ford chases the latest from a company with an insatiable appetite for success.
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Master Agroindustrial Ltda supplies some of the industry’s best-known brand names with high quality pork. Recognized for its vertically integrated processes, which highlight expertise in genetics, the company is increasing production to meet growing demand.
Recently growth has inspired the successful launch of Master’s own brand; Sulita. Thanks to strategic investment in a state-of-the-art production facility and years of experience, Sulita’s sausages, ham, bacon and cold cuts are available in supermarkets in Brazil’s south and south-eastern states.
The expansion in infrastructure, accompanied by a rise in pig production is representative of Master’s constant evolution in the industry.
“We have always invested in technological developments and achieving record growth – it’s in our DNA,” says Mário Faccin, CEO of Master Agroindustrial.
Master was born from the acquisition of a pig breeding center in Santa Catarina state in 1994. The facility, purchased from Agroceres PIC (Pig Improvement Company) – a global enterprise with a strong tradition of knowledge and innovation in the genetic development of pigs – was enlarged and a pig feed factory added. One year later, Master Agroindustrial Ltda launched its integrated production system.
“As part of an integrated system, our partners in the field assist in the reproduction of the animals allowing us to have control over the complete production process,” Faccin says.
The company did not delay in opening subsequent facilities in other regions. In 1998, a new facility was opened in Rio Verde in Goiás state (midwest Brazil).
It was the Northern region project in Santa Catarina three years later that catalyzed growth in what Faccin calls “the first major step towards expansion.” The project included the installation of two new factories, each with 5.500 sows producers and responsible for 300,000 pigs a year. “Added to a new pig feed factory with a capacity of 30 tons an hour, and the 100 producers already consolidated in Videira (Santa Catarina), the Northern region Project tripled expansion,” he says.
Further steps were made in 2010, when Master acquired its biggest facility in São Roque (São Paulo); with 9,000 sows farms “Master São Roque produces 240,000 pigs a year. At the same time, the company also purchased an additional feed factory, which contributed an additional 15 tons an hour.
“Also in 2010, we acquired a small processing center for pork derivatives (such as cold cuts) and we created our own brand, Sulita. It was the start of total integration,” Faccin explains.
Today, Master produces 850,000 pigs a year, from 30.000 sows. This year ham variations, salami and mortadella were added to the Sulita line, which already included seasoned ribs, chops and cutlets, pork joints, sausages, bacon and filets. “We are continuously expanding our families of products and focus on increasing production volume,” Faccin affirms.
A relative newcomer to the processed pork products market, Sulita has been very well accepted. The extensive product range considers modern developments and tendencies for ‘time-saving’ pre-prepared cuts. “We produce smaller packets and pieces for families and couples or individuals that are pre-seasoned and ready to cook,” Faccin adds. At present 20 percent of the company’s pigs are consumed by Sulita.
The remaining 80 percent (680,000 pigs) are sold to major food labels such as BRF, Pamplona, Irmãos do Valle and Fricasa. Master is the fifth largest producer of pigs in Brazil.
“In terms of agricultural production, we are a benchmark in the application of modern methods and resources in pig reproduction and genetics – with full awareness of operational norms and practices, which guarantee quality,” Faccin says. Master has a history of the best and most recent technology – production machinery is imported from Germany. “In our processing center we have equipment that can prepare pork cuts for gourmet, pre-prepared product lines,” Faccin adds.
The company is a partner of English pig genetics leader PIC and all internal operations value the genetic potential of the animals including new breeds.
“We test breeding and feeding methods and manage to increase the quality of our pigs and still reduce costs,” Faccin continues. In-house genetics and veterinarian consultants work together with production teams to maximize performance. “Our main product is an animal derived from the best genetic breeding, transforming vegetable protein into low-fat meat for better value and quality,” he says. Processes are aligned with international standards and environmental requirements (ISO 14001).
Safety in Numbers
Master’s sales cover the whole country, in addition to being one of the only companies in the sector authorized to sell pork to Japan. With facilities in Videira and Papanduva in Santa Catarina and Rio Verde in state of Goiás, the company has 780 employees and 280 integrated rural partners. Annual revenue reached $150 million in 2013 and is set to close in excess of $175 million in 2014.
“We have averaged 20 percent annual growth over the last 20 years even considering crises, such as in 2011. Working in the food industry offers a certain security but we are highly competitive and focus on overcoming difficulties, not fearing them,” Faccin says.
With the value of the Brazilian real falling, economic growth at an all-time low and inflation skyrocketing, Brazil’s economy faces hard times. Despite this, Faccin is optimistic about the future: “Brazilians are survivors. The economy of our country has taught us to adapt and control our business. I believe Brazil will get back to growing.” He also points out that the 200-million population of Brazil offers a huge market for Master’s customers and its own brand Sulita.
“Our growth strategy for the next five years takes on a competitive market. Without giving too much away, I can say that we have big plans for our facilities and products and aim to grow by 60 percent before 2020,” Faccin reveals.
Master is a company that boasts many differentials and it is these that have enabled it to reach its position among the market leaders. Admired and respected, the company is both consolidated and vertically integrated – an example of modern pig production and processing. “Quality, growth and solid relationships with staff, customers and collaborators are the fundamental components of Master,” Faccin concludes.
Achieving outstanding growth, Master Agroindustrial has grabbed a considerable share of the market and promised more innovation and expansion in the future.