JOANITA KAROLESKI: HOW DOES THE WORLD’S LEADING POULTRY PROCESSOR OPERATE?
To celebrate International Women’s Day, the March edition of aviNews published an interview with Joanita Karoleski, who has over 20 years’ experience in the agribusiness and food industries and became president of Seara in 2015.
Seara has been around for over 60 years and was acquired by JBS S.A. in 2013. The Company offers a wide range of fresh meat, prepared foods and chilled and ready meal products.
Seara began exporting when it sold 240 tons of chicken to Kuwait in 1975 in its first international transaction. In 1982, it was the first Brazilian company to export poultry to Europe. Today, the company exports to over 100 countries.
In 2016, the company slaughtered 5.7 million birds a day, employing 64 thousand people directly and working with more than 9 thousand partners. We spoke with Joanita Karoleski about the big issues facing the poultry industry today.
aviNews – Responsible use of antibiotics is at the center of a global debate. How is the issue addressed by the technical staff at Seara and producers who supply the company?
Joanita Karoleski – Seara has a very strict antibiotics policy that every facility has been following for decades. Antibiotics controls, definitions, restrictions and strategies are decided by a corporate team of veterinary specialists.
According to our partnership agreement, integrated suppliers can only use products supplied by Seara and prescribed by a veterinary specialists once a particular lot is checked.
Everything they use is controlled and traceable across the production chain. In addition to official medication controls, Seara has its own meat waste monitoring program to ensure all our products are fully compliant.
AN – How does Seara address animal welfare in poultry farming?
JK – Seara complies with the strictest animal welfare standards and constantly invests in training for everyone on its farming and industrial teams and its integrated producers. The Company’s standards are based on criteria developed by some of the most demanding customers in the world.
The company uses check lists to monitor a range of indicators developed to comply with current legislation, customer requirements and domestic and international certification processes.
Seara also has a Committee that monitors and animal welfare, creates animal welfare initiatives and which is developing several special projects.
An animal’s welfare is affected by its ability to behave naturally, so Seara has an initiative that focuses on Environmental Enrichment to provide the birds we breed with a natural environment.
We also have the free range poultry range called Nhô Bento. Apart from that, we have Seara DaGranja, a range made using antibiotic-free poultry raised on 100% vegetable feed. The company complies with the strictest and most sophisticated international quality standards and holds several animal welfare certificates.
AN – Salmonella is a delicate topic in the poultry industry. How does Seara address this issue?
JK – For quite some time, Seara has had a control program encompassing every production process that includes a set of procedures, controls and laboratory analyses used to monitor the whole production chain.
Seara also has several laboratories that focus heavily on Salmonella prevention and control. The Company also has a Corporate Committee specifically addressing the issue and every unit also has its own control and prevention committee.
More specifically, Seara continues to export to the European Union, one of our biggest export markets, because we continue to implement strict production controls.
AN – What is the greatest animal nutrition challenge Seara faces during chicken production?
JK – Our birds are fed balanced feed, ensuring maximum performance while fulfilling out animal health and welfare requirements throughout the production process.
Seara believes that continuous improvement, particularly adoption of new technologies, alongside its efforts to implement best production practices and provide the best possible infrastructure and equipment – all focused on meeting our customers’ high standards and expectations – as well as extensive workforce training, all help improve the animals’ environment, encouraging them to achieve their full health and welfare potential.
AN – Seara owns the first poultry meat production unit in the world holding a partition certification. How did this develop and are there plans for further partitions in the future?
JK – The Company has been working with partition in Itapiranga (SC) since the beginning of 2007, when ABPA, Mapa and OIE began a pilot project covering the entire process from breeding stock up to production.
The Company is proud to have been involved in deploying and helping document and detail this process, which provides a high level of biosafety. After achieving Mapa certification in 2018, the unit now has a separate sanitary status, reducing the risk of trade sanctions imposed on Brazil by other countries in the event of sanitary incidents.
Moreover, this certificate is evidence of our significant investment in quality processes that comply with some of the toughest international requirements, consolidating Seara’s position as a food industry leader.
Looking to the future, Seara has been researching and taking steps to expand the partition project, prioritizing units in line with a number of internal, strategic criteria. In addition to the partition system, Seara is developing a project to regionalize production that will improve biosafety parameters.
The Company believes and invests in the benefits and differentials these initiatives offer the global food market. Apart from guaranteeing biosafety across all our production processes, this is also part of our commitment to quality.
AN – Are exports Seara’s priority at the moment?
JK – Seara products are available in over 100 countries and our strategy is to build closer and more transparent relationships with global partners and consumers by strengthening our export structure.
Approximately half of everything we produce across all our divisions is exported, highlighting the growing demand for more elaborate and custom-made products that offer greater added value. We have a number of commercial departments and in-house teams that deal with customers in seven different international markets, including China, Japan, Singapore, Europe (the Netherlands and United Kingdom), United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
We have a partner in Chile that markets our products there and in Mexico we partner with Pilgrim’s Mexico, which is responsible for local sales.
We also have major partners marketing Seara products on international e-commerce platforms, such as JD.com, which began selling Seara products in June 2018, and global giant Alibaba, who we started partnering with in November last year at the first edition of China International Import Expo.
The website launches have helped the company increase its exposure to international customers, in both the food service segment (www.searaprofessional.com), and consumer market (www.searainternational.com).
AN – How do consumer niches influence Seara’s chicken production?
JK – Products that offer some sort of innovation are taking an increasing share of the market. These products are able to address sustainability, quality, healthiness, practicality, functionality and other issues. That is why our business strategy is focused on building a varied product mix that prioritizes high value-added items.
Seara DaGranja is an innovative food product because it provides consumers with antibiotic-free poultry raised on 100% vegetable feed. We are also the first Brazilian food company to supply fresh chicken to the Middle East – exports began in November 2018, after the company had consolidated its position domestically and adapted its products for global markets.
The range also complies with the toughest and most sophisticated international quality standards and holds animal welfare certification. The range also received a major international award in the Innovation Selection 2018 display during the most recent edition of SIAL, in Paris, which showcases the industry’s biggest innovations.
The range was also a finalist at the Gulfood Innovation Awards in the “Most Innovative Beef or Poultry Product” category. In Brazil, the range took 3rd place in the Most Innovative Food Product of 2018 category at the Fi Innovation Awards, organized by FiSA (Foodingredients South America).
The new Seara Rotisserie meal range, made using the brand’s exclusive PowerVac technology, can preserve the flavor and freshness of ingredients without the need for food coloring, flavorings or preservatives. Another example of what we are doing to expand our portfolio is the IQF technology, which quickly freezes individual meat cuts sold in ziplock packaging, which means customers only need to thaw what they plan to eat.