Black Bamboo Enterprises consistently improves its production and expands its market globally, factors contributing to continue being a successful benchmark among Argentine meat producers
The south of the Santa Fe province, in Argentina, is one of the country’s areas where the best cattle for meat consumption are raised, and the small town of Hughes - of just 5,000 inhabitants - is home to one of the most important company exporting this food variety.
Black Bamboo Enterprises S.A. is the name that since 2016 has been one of the most important meatpackers in Argentina at the export level. The historic plant, which has been operating for over 60 years, changed ownership several times, from Argentinean livestock producers to being owned by a company of British origin in 2004, whose optimization enabled the plant to reach the BRC (British Retail Consortium) standard. In 2007, the company became part of the Marfrig Global Group, one of the most important food companies in Brazil until it was acquired in mid-2016 by a consortium based in China and managed to increase a traditionally good production, supported by the high quality of its product.
“Today we are owned by a Chinese group, with this group we have greatly improved the export performance and volume," said Luis María Medina, Business Development Officer of Black Bamboo Enterprises S.A.
Luis María Medina studied veterinary medicine at the National University of Rosario and he is also a senior technician in the food industry, graduated from the National Technological University. He also holds a certificate in beef production and has more than 30 years of experience in the food industry, being specialized in beef cattle. In addition to his outstanding work in the Hughes meatpacker, Medina also worked for the former Compañía Elaboradora de Productos Alimenticios de Argentina (CEPA), in the same industry, and later on for Quickfood and Marfrig, before Black Bamboo became property of a Chinese consortium
“I have experienced all areas, I know the company’s entire operation from all angles", said the executive.
Presence in global and domestic markets
Meatex and Hughes are brands that, in different presentations, stand for the company around the world. Black Bamboo Enterprises has all the authorizations and sanitary, food and commercial certifications from Argentina’s authorities, and it stands out for exporting these meat products -- considered among the best in the world -- to Brazil, China, Israel, the United States and Europe, in addition to the countries bordering Argentina, among others.
Reaching so many markets implies challenges that go beyond the preparation of a high-quality product, originated from animals with an excellent diet and that have undergone special care, and also requires compliance with a series of standards and certifications in each region and country.
“Our main business fluctuates between China and Israel in volume and revenue. There are people who improve their purchasing power and the first thing they want is to eat better, and to do this, red meat protein is the most valued of them all”, said Medina, who added that efforts by the company have more than doubled the production capacity, increasing annual revenue from US$40 million to US$ 130 million.
Resources to optimize operations
Increases in Black Bamboo Enterprises’ production and, therefore, in revenue are the consequences of investments in certain activities.
In 2019, the company invested in a rotating restraint box with Kosher specifications, which contributes to beef exports to Israel’s market. Two packaging warehouses were also built and equipped for the company's products.
Management-wise, operations are supported by a SAP system, and there is a SAP module for specific tasks such as management, foreign trade, maintenance, human resources, and others. Other software used in Black Bamboo’s activities is BeefTrazz, useful for full meat traceability.
Suppliers: proven qualities
Black Bamboo chooses suppliers and strategic partners based on the key requirements of quality of product and services.
The same spirit of service and communication is reflected in the companies that collaborate with Black Bamboo, keeping the senior management’s channels open, thus making collaboration and transactions easier.
More than a link with the community, a landmark in town
The meat processing plant has established ties with the community for quite some time, leading to constant contact with institutions such as the city council, local hospitals, the police force and other entities. In addition to these links, Black Bamboo Enterprises employs 600 workers directly and another 150 indirectly, making it not only the most important source of employment in Hughes, but also in the area south of Santa Fe.
Black Bamboo offers good salaries, performance bonuses - which have obviously broken records in recent years - and other fringe benefits, including an employee dining room with excellent quality options, as well as significant discounts at the butcher shop recently opened by the company to the public at large.
The company also has a trade school open each year to new students, where they learn all the tasks and activities carried out in the meatpacker, such as slaughtering, all about meat cuts and food handling, among others.
“For the city’s people, to work at the meatpacker is a good job opportunity. People have the possibility of not migrating. If I didn’t have this place to work, I would have to migrate to another part of the country”, explained the executive.
Future plans, the road to a green operation and new markets
The next few years raise good expectations for Black Bamboo Enterprises’ work, both within the company and with the industry’s environment.
On the one hand, it is moving towards a more environmentally friendly operation by converting all gastric material from cattle into compost, taking steps towards achieving zero environmental impact.
Another project already started is the construction of a carton freezer, a dynamic freezing tunnel to provide high cold capacity to the plant.
Expanding its operations through the Argentine territory, the company acquired and is already working on the start-up of a plant purchased a few years ago in Vivoratá, a town near the city of Mar del Plata, in the province of Buenos Aires. The reopening of this plant implies work not only with cattle, but also with pigs, pork meat has high demand in the Eastern market.
And to expand Black Bamboo’s coverage in new markets, work is being performed to enter the United States market, a plan whose strategy requires certified quality cuts, such as the black angus.
“Argentina is having a very good development regarding the meat industry, it has a very important future. Argentine meat is a trademark in the world. There is a great demand for beef, the entire Argentine industry is expecting to achieve even a better performance”, concluded Luis María Medina, Business Development Officer of Black Bamboo Enterprises S.A.