BRAZIL – Minerva, a South American meat packer has signed an agreement with two Chinese meat distributors to form a joint venture aimed at exploring commercial opportunities in the Chinese market.

Minerva has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese representatives Xuefang Chen and Wenbo Ge, in which Minerva, Athena Foods or any other subsidiaries, shall be partners in the joint venture.

“With the establishment of this JV, the company aims to maximize its distribution channels in China, enabling new business opportunities, and to meet the growing demand for beef protein in China, which today accounts for approximately 15% of all global beef consumption,” Minerva said in a  statement.

The partnership comes at a time when the Chine government recently approved two of the company’s beef processing plants alongside with 23 other Brazilian plant to export meat products into the Asian Country.

According to a GlobalMeat report, Minerva has two sites located in Rolim de Moura and Palmeiras de Goiás, which have a combined slaughter capacity of 3,500 heads per day.

The two faclities, combined with the Barretos plant that is already certified to export to China, allows Minerva to offer up to 4,340 heads per day to the China market.

Minerva highlighted that its Athena Foods division is also certified to export to China through four plants: three in Uruguay and one in Argentina, totalling 5,600 heads/day, creating a combined capacity of 9,940 head per day.

The developments signals a major boost to the company, after it was forced to put its staff at the Barretos site in Sao Paulo on collective vacation in June following a temporary ban on beef trade between Brazil and China due to the detection of BSE.

China is arguably Brazil’s largest export market for beef, chicken and pork, with demand surging since last year as an African swine fever outbreak has decimated China’s pig herds.

Brazilian pork exports to China soared 48% in the first eight months of the year, according to Brazil government statistics, while beef exports to China are up 17% and chicken exports rose soared 37%.