Agrogen takes the saying “putting all eggs in one basket” seriously – which is why the Brazilian company has chosen to distribute all its eggs, literally, among two baskets. To wit, at the same time as Agrogen is one of Brazil’s leading producers of genetically bred chickens, it is also one the country’s most rapidly expanding producers of frozen chicken products. What’s most interesting, however, is that although the two activities are quite distinct, they both ultimately end up complimenting each other. Agrogen’s own chickens supply all the meat for its own line of poultry products – and in doing so, the company has achieved complete vertical integration.
Although Agrogen’s foray into frozen foods is very recent, when the company’s founders originally set up Agrogen , they had plenty of experience in this segment under their belts. Flávio Wallauer and Heitor Müller were already owners of Frangosul, a nationally-known producer of frozen chickens and chicken products when they decided, in 1990, to purchase a breeding farm in São José do Sul, located in the interior of Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. In rapid succession, they acquired and constructed a handful of breeding houses, hatcheries, poultry farms, and feed units in the region.
In 1997, when Frangosul was sold to the French group Doux (becoming Frangosul Doux), the owners focused all their attention on Agrogen, which was experiencing robust growth and expanding throughout the country.
“Today we’re one of the largest genetic breeders of poultry in Brazil,” says marketing director Eduardo Matos de Medeiros, adding that the company’s annual production capacity is 13.5 million birds. “We’re also one of the most respected due to our comprehensive biosecurity and sustainability programs. Reflecting our commitment to sustainability, at all stages, Agrogen’s birds are surrounded by swaths of nature and protected forest. All of these precautions contribute to the creation of chickens of the highest quality.”
BIRTH OF A BRAND
Currently 70 percent of Agrogen’s chicken products – which last year amounted to 33,000 tons – are sold overseas. Among its biggest clients are countries such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who are also among the most demanding. “The Middle East countries, for example, have very high standards,” says Medeiros. “They demand that meat complies with certain safety and quality certifications.”
According to Medeiros, issues of sustainability and health are the most important trends driving the poultry industry today. “The operations at our feed mills increasingly reflect these concerns as do those at our Minas plant.”
At the moment, Agrogen’s client base is concentrated in the states of Minas Gerais and neighboring Rio de Janeiro as well as Ceará and Amazonas to the north. However, this year the company is getting ready to inaugurate a second production plant in Itapejara d’Oeste, Paraná, which give it access to the markets of the South as well as those of neighboring São Paulo. When the Paraná plant launches operations later this year, Agrogen will not only increase its daily production capacity from 130,000 to 200,000 chickens, but will also branch out in terms of its mix by adding a whole new selection of industrialized products – including sausages, mortadelas, hams – to its catalogue.
“We’re hoping that these new point-of-sales products, combined with the distinctiveness of our packaging will really set us apart from competitors,” confesses Medeiros. Meanwhile, in terms of growth of the market itself, the company has no need for concern; the potential opportunities, both at home and abroad, are seemingly endless.
“As the global population increases there is an escalating need for the production of more food. Agrogen is positioning itself to become a leading player. Not only are we investing in our own future, but we’re also investing in the future of the planet.”