BSP Research Seminar: The meat industry as a "national champion": Cross-border elites, the state, and social inequality in Brazil

Speaker: Raisa Ramos de Pina (LAC Recognised Student 23-24 and doctoral student at the Anthropology Department of the University of Brasilia, Brazil) with comments by Dr Lidia Cabral (Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Sussex). Dr Cabral leads IDS Rural Futures Cluster and is an expert of Brazil’s agri-food politics.




The seminar critically examines the Brazilian meat industry, focusing on JBS, the world’s largest food company, based mostly on processed meat products. The central theme revolves around the stark contrast between JBS's exponential growth, fuelled by government policies and financial institutions, and escalating social inequalities in Brazil. The study highlights how JBS's rapid expansion, supported greatly by public investments (with the expressed purpose of creating a “national champion”), has not translated into broader social progress. Key preliminary findings reveal a significant disparity between the high profits and executive compensation at JBS and the rates of poverty and hunger in Brazil. The disparity is also evident within the company, where there is a growing gap between executive wages and the pay of factory workers. The study critically assesses the role of public and foreign investments in JBS against the backdrop of limited real social progress and concludes that the goal of building a “national champion” has fallen well short of creating a “champion nation”. The seminar also discusses recommendations for policy changes and corporate practices aimed at achieving more equitable and sustainable outcomes from the industry.



All welcome!