August 1, 2018 / 7:00 PM / 9 months ago

REFILE-Brazil's BRF launches 'bio' chicken line in bid to boost profits

 (Corrects name of executive to Rodrigo Lacerda, instead of
Ricardo Lacerda in the 2nd paragraph)
    By Ana Mano
    SAO PAULO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - BRF SA            will launch a
line of chicken products aimed at health-conscious Brazilians,
the company's marketing director said on Wednesday, as Brazil's
largest poultry processor grapples with a meat glut after a
series of export bans.
    Rodrigo Lacerda said the initiative, the first since Chief
Executive Pedro Parente joined the company, is an attempt to
grow profitably through higher value products.
    Lacerda said only antibiotic-free chickens from selected
farms in Brazil's farm belt state of Mato Grosso will be
slaughtered for the line. The birds will be given 100 percent
vegetable-based feed, he added. 
    The line, called "Sadia Bio", will appear on supermarkets
shelves next week pending price negotiations with the retailers.
Consumers will be able to trace product origins through the
company's website using a numeric code that will be printed on
each package.
    "There is a lot more care put into this line than in the
regular one," Lacerda said in an interview.
    Lacerda, who has been with the company for eight months,
declined to say how much of a premium the company will charge
for the product, which makes BRF one of the latest among global
chicken producers tapping into a consumer shift toward products
perceived to be more natural and healthy.
    The new line, however, cannot be considered "organic food"
as the chickens will not be fed organically, a press
representative said.
    BRF is under pressure to sell more poultry in the domestic 
market after several countries banned importing its chickens
following allegations that it and other companies bribed health
inspectors to evade food safety checks.             
    Parente, confirmed as BRF's chairman in April and CEO in
June, was brought in as shareholders sought a management
overhaul after the world's largest chicken exporter racked up 1
billion reais in losses last year.                         
    The new line will only be sold in the domestic market,
initially in Brazil's affluent southeast region, Lacerda said.
($1 = 3.7401 reais)

 (Reporting by Ana Mano
Editing by Susan Thomas)
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