SAO PAULO, May 11 (Reuters) - Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA
posted a first-quarter profit that beat expectations
on the back of strength in its United States business, according
to a financial statement on Wednesday.
Despite posting a 151.4% increase in profit, high global
grain prices and Brazil's sluggish economy challenged the
world's biggest meat company, in addition to an expected drop in
pork exports to China.
JBS made 5.14 billion reais ($1.00 billion) in profit after
reporting net sales 20.8% higher at 90.8 billion reais.
Beef operations in North America remained strong, with net
revenue rising almost 22% thanks to heated domestic demand, the
recovery of food service channels and healthy retail sales,
which also bolstered JBS's chicken business in the region.
The United States is also a major export platform for JBS.
During the quarter, and despite the slowness of some U.S.
port operations, the company said beef export volumes rose by
more than 6% from the country.
JBS also said Asia continues to be the most important region
for exports of U.S. beef, notably China, which in the period
increased beef import volumes by almost 62%.
On the other hand, the company said U.S. pork exports to
China slumped, with the United States now ranking fifth as the
main supplier of that type of meat to the Asian country.
U.S.-based pork processors reeled because China recovered
from African Swine Fever, and may now supply more of its own
needs, JBS said.
JBS's beef unit in Brazil was able to raise sales by 24.2%
last quarter, despite a 5% drop in cattle processing because
China temporarily banned some Brazilian beef exporters.
A rise in the price of domestic cattle weighed negatively,
as has a fall in domestic beef consumption.
Regarding its Seara processed foods division in Brazil, a
persistent rise in the price of corn and soymeal, used as animal
feed, was partly offset by JBS's ability to raise product
prices, the company said.
($1 = 5.1375 reais)
(Reporting by Ana Mano and Nayara Figueiredo in Sao Paulo
Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)