(Refiles to clarify products at new plant in para 2)
By Stanley Carvalho
ABU DHABI, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's BRF SA, the world's biggest poultry producer, aims to increase revenues from the Middle East to at least 20 percent of its total income by 2020, helped by rising demand for frozen foods, its next CEO said on Wednesday.
The company opened its first Middle East production facility in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, which will make breaded products such as chicken nuggets, and pizzas, burgers and other food items, employing 1,400 people. Initial investment was $160 million but the group plans to expand its production capacity by 30 percent to 100,000 tonnes by 2020.
The Middle East is BRF's biggest export market and currently contributes 17 percent of group revenues, helped by its Sadia brand of some halal (food permissible for muslims under Islamic Shari'a) products.
"Our market share has been growing between 5 to 10 percent in the Middle East in the last five years despite the Arab Spring," Pedro Faria, the company's international chief executive, who will step up to CEO on Jan. 1, told Reuters.
The region's growing population and rising consumption of frozen food over chilled food created growth opportunities, he said.
"With the new production line in Abu Dhabi and expansion planned, an over 20 per cent revenue target is good and achievable in the next five years," he said.
BRF is also investing in logistics, distribution and sales. This year it acquired Abu Dhabi-based Federal Foods and bought 40 percent of Oman-based Al Khan Foods, and is close to completing an agreement with Kuwait-based Al Yasra Foods, in which the Kuwaiti firm will put part of its frozen foods business into a joint venture with BRF.
The total cost of these three Middle East investments is $200 million. (Reporting By Stanley Carvalho, editing by Susan Fenton)