BRAZIL – In a strategic move to fortify its presence in the Middle East, Brazilian meat giant JBS SA, under the umbrella of its parent company J&F, is contemplating significant investments in Saudi Arabia.

This development comes as a Brazilian government delegation, led by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, engages with local officials to enhance business ties, according to reports from Reuters.

Wesley Batista, a member of JBS’ founding family, expressed a growing interest in exploring more substantial investments in Saudi Arabia, signalling a potential expansion beyond previous considerations.

The announcement was made from Riyadh as part of ongoing discussions between the Brazilian delegation and Saudi officials.

J&F, with diverse interests spanning the food, mining, pulp, paper, and energy sectors, disclosed that JBS currently operates a plant in Damman, with another unit under construction in Jeddah.

Once the Jeddah facility becomes operational, JBS aims to quadruple its capacity in Saudi Arabia, reaching 40,000 metric tons of processed chicken products annually, a significant increase from current levels.

Saudi Arabia, boasting the largest economy in the Middle East, holds a pivotal position as Brazil’s primary trading partner in the region, with bilateral transactions exceeding $8 billion in 2022, as reported by J&F.

The potential investments by JBS align with Saudi Arabia’s ambition to achieve “food security” and emerge as a “global hub” in the meat sector, according to Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment.

Brazil, recognized as the world’s leading exporter of halal meats adhering to Muslim dietary requirements, houses some of the most efficient meat exporters globally.

However, JBS faces formidable competition in the Gulf region from Brazilian companies BRF, Minerva, and Marfrig, all vying for market share.

“The food sector is our main area of cooperation,” stated Minister Khalid Al-Falih, underscoring the importance of the collaboration between Brazil and Saudi Arabia in this vital industry.

This potential expansion by JBS into Saudi Arabia signifies a strategic move in response to the increasing demand for halal meats and reflects the broader trend of global meat producers seeking to tap into emerging markets.

As discussions between the Brazilian delegation and Saudi officials continue, the prospect of substantial investments by JBS in the region adds a new dimension to the evolving landscape of international business partnerships.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE