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Cargill ‘gets serious’ about international poultry

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Cargill is "aggressively" investing to adapt to the busy international poultry division
Cargill is "aggressively" investing to adapt to the busy international poultry division
In an exclusive interview granted to GlobalMeatNews, Cargill’s group president of international protein Chris Langholz outlined how the business wants to “get serious” about poultry.

“We see the trends of poultry becoming the most consumed meat in the world in a few years, so we’re aggressively investing worldwide to win with poultry.”

The international poultry division has been busy over the past year or so, with advancements made in various markets.

“Recently, we’ve invested more than US$1bn globally in a joint ventures in Indonesia and the Philippines and the UK, as well as acquisitions in Columbia. We’ve built new primary processing plant in Nicaragua, new plant in the Philippines, a processing plant in Thailand, another plant for China plus expansion in plants in the UK. Our vision is broad and not restricted to one region.”

He explains that working in so many different markets has meant Cargill has had to be agile in targeting local consumers. “We’re also investing in listening to consumers of the world. The needs of consumers are different around the world. A lot of agility is needed in our supply chain to meet these different needs. What’s common is that if you listen to the consumer and have good systems in place, you can leverage that around the world.”

Langholz said consumers all over the world were changing and becoming more global, thanks to social media, something Cargill has had to adapt to. “You see more and more consumers having a global view about what’s important to them, thanks to social media. People travel more. A flavour that might have been regional before, like a Szechuan black pepper in China, is now interesting to a consumer in Japan, due to social media growth. We’re able to have our local staff in those regions work on that.

“Take Shanghai as an example, it’s a very dynamic food market, with the consumer base connected with food companies like never before. Food businesses are able to have running conversations with consumers about the product. NPD is very important to consumers, as well as health. Health for the family is very important for the consumer in Shanghai. We’re engaged by the minute on social media and keep the discourse going. You have to cycle NPD quickly, as they want to try lots of new things, plus they’re willing to give feedback.”

He also gave an update on the Cargill and Faccenda Foods UK joint venture, Avara Foods, which was given approval at the end of 2017. Langholz explained that the UK consumer was often ahead of the rest of the world in terms of trends.

“We’re pleased to be working with Faccenda, we see this as a growth move. The UK consumer, and how they interact with the retailer, in our view, is a leading trend around the world and is on the forefront of consumer trends. The retailer has such a close relationship with the consumer in the UK, and there’s a great back-and-forth between the two about requirements. Animal welfare, transparency, sustainability – in my view, the UK is a world leader in those areas.

“We have our priorities, and they are where the consumer is going. We like what’s going on in Asia and Latin America, in terms of consumers. We have a lot of things happening in other parts of the world.”

Outlook

Given the business has embarked on numerous joint ventures and acquisitions of late, does Langholz feel that this practice may slow down? No chance.

We’re very open to joint ventures, but it’s important to have the right partner that has the same vision. It’s something we’re very comfortable with. Look to see more joint ventures and acquisitions, it’s navigating the local market that’s key and that’s why we look to have the right partners​.”

With lab-grown meat a hot topic, and Cargill itself investing in alternative protein businesses, Langholz said the company would “continue to be driven by consumer needs”, ​but was “monitoring the situation”​.

Overall, Langholz said that, in 2018, Cargill would “continue to execute investment, refine our consumer listening programme and NPD around that, as well as investing aggressively and listening to consumers.”

Related topics: Poultry, United States, Products

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