Poultry a key focus for Marfrig Global Foods in 2015

By Georgi Gyton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Moy Park is looking to expand outside its core customer base of the UK and Ireland
Moy Park is looking to expand outside its core customer base of the UK and Ireland
Taking advantage of the favourable global outlook for poultry, and the opening of new markets for Brazilian beef, are key focuses for Marfrig Global Foods in its strategy for 2015.

In order to achieve a net sales target of R$23bn-R$25bn this year, the Brazilian-based firm has set out goals for each of its three businesses: Moy Park, Keystone Foods and Marfrig Beef Brazil, which were communicated to delegates at its first Marfrig Day in London, England, yesterday (9 March).

It follows the publishing of its Q4 and full-year results for 2014 last week, which revealed the group had achieved full-year revenue of R$21bn, as a favourable currency exchange and growth in exports pushed up sales across the business.

Martin Secco, chief executive, Marfrig Global Foods, said the group had achieved all its goals in its ‘Focus to Win’ strategy for 2014, but that there were more opportunities to grow the company.

Moy Park

Moy Park, which increased net revenue by 13% in 2014, was keen to grow its poultry sales ahead of the market, in the UK and Ireland, explained Janet McCollum, chief executive, Moy Park. Poultry is forecast to grow faster than other proteins, at around +3-4%, while consumers’ preference for local produce represented an opportunity, as around 40% of poultry is imported to the UK, she said.

Approximately 78% of Moy Park’s revenue comes from the UK and Ireland, which it supplies with fresh, ready-to-eat and coated products, while 22% comes from continental Europe, which is dominated by sales of convenience foods. However McCollum said the business was targeting sales growth in Asia and Africa going forwards, in addition to Europe, with the target for net sales set at +8.5-10% by 2018.

"Cross-selling opportunities exist to drive further growth,"​ she added.

The business has also increased its production capacity, and was on target to achieve slaughter numbers of five million birds per week this quarter, she said.

Keystone Foods

Frank Ravndal, chief executive of Keystone Foods, put the 21% increase in revenue seen in the fourth quarter down in part to growth in Asia, including double-digit growth in China.

He explained that key account growth was seen across the APMEA region (Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa), despite a number of "difficult challenges"​ last year. The company’s goals for the coming year include leveraging global poultry demand, growing sales in its key accounts and geographical expansion.

He said that poultry was the only protein to grow in the US over the past 25 years, and that growth in developing countries was forecast to be double that of developed markets. Keystone Foods is therefore looking to increase its bird weights – specifically at two plants in the US, as well as adding lines to its existing facilities.

Ravndal told delegates there was a favourable outlook for poultry, lots of opportunities to continue to grow with McDonald’s – its single largest customer, making up 60% of total sales – and other key accounts, such as Wendys, Subway and Iceland Foods.

"We have a mix of domestic-focused and export-focused models in APMEA,"​ he said, adding: "If Japan opens its doors to Chinese supplies again, then that would be a huge opportunity for us."

In terms of further expansion in Asia, the Middle East is Keystone Foods’ key priority. It is currently looking to finalise a joint venture in Saudi Arabia, and said it was ready to expand geographically, provided it was economically sensible to do so.

Marfrig Beef Brazil

Meanwhile, Marfrig Beef Brazil is on target to increase its sales from international markets from 46% to 50% by the end of 2015, according to its chief executive Andrew Murchie. It saw net revenue increase 22% in the fourth quarter of 2014, with volumes up almost 14% over last year.

Its 2015 goals include growing volumes and average prices, increasing cash generation, and maximising South America’s export platform. Ultimately the business is looking to increase net sales by 7-9% by 2018.

Higher volumes would be achieved partly by the opening of new markets, as well as growth in existing markets, he said.

"We believe by the first semester (six months) of this year, China and Saudi Arabia will open their doors again to beef from Brazil,"​ said Murchie, adding that they had previously been good customers with regular orders. Meanwhile, the opening of the US market could potentially result in the likes of Mexico and Canada following suit.

Other opportunities include expanding its distribution centres in the north of the country, where at present it works with partners, and the development of its genetics programme Marfrig +, which was launched two months ago. Murchie said they would help Brazil to improve its beef productivity and increase slaughter weight.

Marfrig Global Foods is looking to achieve a 7.5-9.5% increase in net sales by 2018 – equating to around R$28bn. The company has more than 45,000 employees, and its products can be found in the global retail and foodservice sectors in more than 110 countries.

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