09/19/2021 6:00 AM
Updated 09/19/2021 10:47
55 years old, a veterinarian by profession, two decades at Cargill and a long stay in Argentina in charge of his animal nutrition business, Laerte Moraes recently had to take on another adventure within that food colossus.
This director of the starches and sweeteners division for South America was
about to opt for Argentina for a plant that makes pectin,
that soluble fiber that is a key input in the food industry and that is obtained from the peel of oranges.
lack of scale,
more than other considerations, led him to his native Brazil.
They disbursed US $ 150 million.
They will employ 120 people.
The giant's strategy
"Cargill is strategic, we have been in Argentina for 73 years with constant investments, and we continue to bet on the country and the region
even if the markets turn their backs on them," he
said in a dialogue by Zoom with
The Pectin Plant of Bebedouro, Brazil
Argentina was the first country where Cargill landed after the US in the last century.
And lately it invested in Chile in the production of food for salmon, in the processing of corn and grains in the humid pampas and in cocoa and tomatoes in Brazil.
does not see as a problem
that the orange peels go from Argentina to Bebedouro, in the interior of São Paulo, to feed what is the
largest and most modern
pectin plant in
But in Brazil there are
more suppliers of this input
that must be fresh to achieve high quality.
Thus, the orange peels travel to the Bebedouro plant and return converted into pectins to Argentina, thus replacing the
import from Europe.
This journey also confirms a reality: Argentina continues to be the farm and Brazil, the workshop.
The location Cargill chose is explained by the fact that Bebedouro has a history of almost 100 years of orange production in that region.
The citrus boom was between 1970 and 1980 and the city is called the “Brazilian California”.
Cargill produced orange juices and derivatives, a business it sold in 2004.
The importance of pectin
Bebedouro's is Cargill's fourth pectin plant.
“Some time ago, such a high investment would not be justified to deliver a next generation unit with a focus on pectin.
Today, that is our greatest achievement and we are placing Brazil and the region as a reference for other countries, ”says Moraes.
The geographical location
facilitates the access of the raw materials,
since the oranges are grown a few kilometers from the factory.
The demand for pectin places Cargill as a supplier in a sector that is growing influenced by the consumption of acidic dairy drinks, yogurt, jams, sweets and candies, which are some of the main destinations for pectin.
"Our new factory also supplies a
new type of consumer,
more demanding with the origin of the products and more attentive to the different sugar content in the products", completes Laerte Moraes.
Pectin even works as a substitute for gelatin in diets free of animal protein.
Cargill with 155 years of life and its heart in Minneapolis, United States, continues in the
hands of its cousins Cargill and Mac Millan
with its feet in 125 countries and in all the rungs of the agro-industrial chain.
In Argentina it has 3,200 employees distributed in 65 operating centers that export to 70 countries.
When Moraes is asked about decision-making in a global scenario of so much uncertainty, he confesses: "We are not flexible but
we have enormous execution capacity
and that is our great advantage."