The new factory covers 160,000 square metres, and currently employs 350 staff. According to BRF, this number could quadruple to 1,400 staff by 2017, as the factory moves towards its full production capacity of 70,000 tonnes of food a year.
With BRF brands such as Sadia and Perdix commanding significant market share in the Middle East, the region is one of BRF’s most important global markets, mirroring Brazil’s strong food trade to the region. Last year Middle Eastern countries imported around 17bn tonnes of Brazilian food, worth around US$5.3bn.
“The ability to produce processed foods locally increases the company‘s flexibility to adapt products to local demand and favours the expansion of Sadia‘s product portfolio in the food services channel, offering the best options to customers,” said Claudio Galeazzi, BRF‘s global CEO.
The company first announced plans to build the Kizad plant in July 2012, with the aim of opening the facility by the end of that year. But delays pushed the planned opening first to 2013, and finally to this year, while costs rose by US$40m from BRF’s initial estimate of US$120m.
BRF has had an active year in the region, increasing its stake in UAE firm Federal Foods in a US$27m deal in April, and buying a 75% stake in Kuwait’s Al Yasra Foods in October. The firm had also been linked to a possible bid for Kuwaiti food producer Americana, but denied it had any interest in acquiring the firm.
Kizad’s food first
The opening of BRF’s factory is also a significant moment for Kizad. The free zone, which is attached to Abu Dhabi’s new Khalifa Port, has announced projects from a number of big food-related firms, including NFPC, Spinneys and Gulf Printing & Packaging, but BRF is the first of its food clients to have an operational facility.
“The opening of BRF‘s food unit represents an important milestone regarding our efforts to enable local development and diversify the emirate‘s economy – in line with the economic plan of Abu Dhabi 2030. The opening of the new facility in Kizad confirms the importance of the location, facilitating access to global markets,” said Kizad CEO Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi.
“As the local food industry is expected to post significant growth in the coming years, BRF‘s plant should contribute considerably to the local production output and to the reduction of imports,” he added.