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JBS Eyes Growing Halal Food Market With Middle East Expansion

Meat giant buys processed food plants, distribution companies in the region

JBS Swift & Co. Meat Processing Plant.
By Tatiana Freitas
April 30, 2022 | 11:41 am

Bloomberg — JBS SA (JBS), the world’s largest meat supplier, is expanding in the Middle East and North Africa, buying two plants and appointing a new head for the region.

The Sao Paulo-based company bought facilities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that produce mainly frozen food including beef, chicken, vegetables and fruits, according to information provided by JBS. JBS is also creating its own distribution network in the region, establishing three companies to place its products in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Values were not disclosed. Last year, JBS invested $2 billion in acquisitions.

The expansion is part of JBS’s goal to become a leader in the halal market,  or food that adheres to Islamic law. Brazil, where JBS is based, is a big supplier of halal meat, sending almost half of its chicken shipments to that market last year, according to figures from the industry group ABPA. BRF SA, a JBS rival in Brazil’s chicken and processed food market, announced a joint venture in January with PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

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The global halal food and beverage market is projected to grow to $3.3 trillion in 2028 from $2.1 trillion in 2021, according to Fortune Business Insights.

“JBS already has a strong commercial presence in the Middle East through exports, but we have decided to strengthen our position with a robust local operation,” said Wesley Batista Filho, JBS Global President of Operations in Latin America and Oceania.

JBS has also named Mohamed Mahrous as chief executive officer for the region. Mahrous has over 30 years of experience, leading important players in the food industry, according to the company. He’ll act to reposition and boost JBS brands, as well as increase the diversification of products offered in the premium, mainstream and plant-based lines.