Brazilian meat giant JBS SA earned $1.31 billion (€240 million) in the final quarter of 2021, beating analysts' expectations on the back of sales to China, the destination of more than a quarter of the company's overall exports last year.
In the fourth quarter, JBS recorded consolidated net revenue of 97.2 billion reais (€17.9 billion), a 27.8% rise compared with the same period a year ago, with growth across all business units.
In 2021, net revenue reached a record of 350.7 billion reais (€64.6 billion), the company said citing a good performance of its US beef and pork businesses and resilience of its poultry operations there.
At Pilgrim's Pride, which JBS owns, management faced 'a challenging and volatile market due to rising costs, disruption in the supply chain, labor shortages and [the effects of] COVID-19 pandemic.'
In its home market, division JBS Brasil had revenue growth of 5.1% from the same year-ago quarter, despite a 3% fall in cattle processed due to a shortage of animals for slaughtering, and the temporary suspension of Brazilian beef exports to China between early September and mid-December.
In the United States, where JBS derives most of its total revenue, demand for beef remained above supply capacity, benefiting its domestic and export business.
In particular, Asia's demand for US beef remained so strong last year that the overall volume of US beef exports into the continent exceeded exported volumes by more than 16% from 2020, JBS said.
"The highlight remains China, which increased its share month after month, and has already become the third largest destination for American exports of this protein," JBS said.
The company also posted adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, a measure of operating income known as EBITDA, stood at 13.15 billion reais (€2.4 billion) in the period, compared with a median forecast of 10.2 billion reais (€1.9 billion).