SAO PAULO, June 7 (Reuters) - Brazil’s BRF, the world’s largest poultry exporter, will shutter two processing plants to cut costs amid a shortage of corn on the local market that has driven feed costs to record levels, the company said on Tuesday.
The company will temporarily shut down its Jatai poultry production line in the center-west state of Goais by June 30, though the plant’s feed processing unit will keep running.
BRF will also deactivate its production line in Lajeado in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, from July 18 to July 31, furloughing workers there.
The company is reviewing operations at its Uberlandia, Minas Gerais state, plant, which has been reducing output gradually since June 5.
The plant closings, while described as temporary by BRF, are the latest sign of trouble in Brazil’s once-thriving meat industry, which has cut capacity up to 15 percent due to falling domestic demand for protein and a severe shortage of corn.
After Brazil’s currency plunged in mid-2015, corn exports accelerated to record levels, leaving local pork and poultry industries short of the main ingredient in their feed.
BRF said it did not intend to sell its Jatai plant.
“The location will remain temporarily deactivated, with regular maintenance, and the return of operations will be assessed by the company when appropriate,” it said, adding that the 550 workers at Jatai could be absorbed by other company units in the region.
Corn prices in Brazil have begun to ease in recent days with the start of corn harvesting in the southern hemisphere winter, but quotes are still far from prices at the same time a year ago. (Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by Bernadette Baum)