Argentina is beef country. But just north of Buenos Aires, on the banks of the Río Paraguay, Bonnin Hermanos Chicken producers are part of quiet revolution in the land of the gauchos. Bonnin Hermanos are raising high quality chickens and are distributing chicken products throughout the country to consumers looking for a healthier and cheaper alternative to beef. Argentinians are learning to love their chicken.
Chicken is Becoming the World’s Favorite Meat
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, global chicken consumption is growing faster than any other meat, and is expected to take over the number one spot from pork within the next five years. This trend is occurring practically everywhere.
The reasons are easy to see. Chicken is the cheapest meat to produce, and that economy of production is expected to give it a great competitive advantage relative to pork and beef going forward. Chicken has the further advantage of not being taboo in cultures where pigs or beef are not consumed.
Chicken production is easier on the environment than traditional alternatives such as cattle, swine, goats and sheep. Its carbon footprint, according to the Environmental Working Group, is between 15 and 50% of these other animals per kilogram consumed.
Tastes in Argentina are Moving towards Chicken
One country where this trend has been particularly notable is Argentina. The people of Argentina love their beef, and have traditionally been the largest consumers of beef per capita in the world. But the trend toward chicken consumption and away from red meat in the land where massive herds of cattle roam the Pampas is as strong there as anywhere. In 1956, the Argentine people ate an average of 100 kilos of beef a year, but by 2011 that number had fallen to 55 kilos a year, and per capita consumption is now neck and neck with its neighbors Uruguay and Paraguay. Pork consumption in Argentina, is only about 9 kilos per capita.
Chicken consumption, however has increased dramatically over the same period of time, from approximately 3 kilos to nearly 50 kilos today. Argentinians are switching to chicken as a cheaper, healthier alternative to beef, and that trend is expected to continue.
Although chickens have been domesticated for thousands of years, they were not generally introduced in the Americas until the 1800’s, and the first birds are thought to have been brought to Argentina in the 1850’s. For most of the next hundred years, the majority of chickens were produced on small family farms and consumed at home. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that significant commercial producers began to emerge, and it was the late 1960’s before chicken prices became competitive with other meats. Consumption rose to 10 kilos per year by 1970 and the industry in Argentina began to take off. Producers began to vertically integrate. By 1990 consumption had risen to 26 kilos per year, and Argentina was exporting chickens to dozens of countries.
Today, chicken production is an important part of the Argentine domestic and export economy. Since 2003, poultry production has tripled and exports have increased from US $65 million to US $650 million. According to government figures, Argentina is now the ninth largest producer and sixth largest exporter of poultry meat, and sells to over 60 countries. Production has also become much more efficient: while In 1970, it took 2.8 kilos of food to produce one kilo of chicken and 75 days to produce a broiler weighing 2.5 kilos, today a chicken weighing 10% more in 46 days is produced using only 2 kilos of food. Not only that, but while export income from corn and soybeans averages US $620, when those products are used to feed chicken, the export income generated is about US $2,500.
Hermanos Bonnin is an Industry Leader in Argentinian Chicken Production
The heart of the commercial chicken industry in Argentina is Entre Ríos, where you will find Hermanos Bonnin, a family run chicken producer which has been in business for 25 years, but whose roots go back to the 1970’s when the family began to produce capons on their farm.
Sales of the birds was so successful, that when they decided to incorporate in 1991, they were also beginning to produce their own proprietary feed. As they grew, they became more and more vertically integrated until today Bonnin Hermanos exports chickens and chicken byproducts and does their own incubation, processing and packing. This allows Bonnin Hermanos to to control the process from start to finish and thus guarantee that the quality of a Bonnin Hermanos bird is the best available.
According to the company, there are four fundamentals to producing a quality chicken: good genetics, good nutrition, good hygiene, and good management. Today, the company has the capacity to house a quarter of a million chickens, incubate a half million eggs a week, and process between 60,000 and 70,000 chickens daily.
At Bonnin Hermanos, product quality and continuous improvement are the drivers of their business. In order to ensure quality, not only are all aspects of chicken production and processing performed in house, but on site laboratories use sophisticated technology to control and certify everything produced on the farm.
High Quality Products in an Environmentally Responsible Site
Of course, in addition to being tasty, it is critically important that food products be wholesome. Operations at Bonnin Hermanos meet or exceed all standards of hygiene and safety imposed by the National Food Safety and Quality Service, and the company has a comprehensive food hygiene and waste control plan which it follows rigorously. Food safety at Bonnin Hermanos is based on prevention, so that issues do not arise in the first place. This requires that potential areas of concern be identified, monitored and corrected in real time, that processes be continuously evaluated and modified when needed, and that points of control be established so that the process runs smoothly. It is a truly integrated, start to finish quality control system.
Chicken processing produces byproducts, some of which must be further processed before they can be allowed to be introduced into the environment. At Bonnin Hermanos, waste treatment at the chicken processing plant and at the byproducts plant follows strict protocols aimed at reducing pollution risks, properly treating effluvient, and further processing waste to be used as fertilizer.
The people at Bonnin Hermanos are proud of the fact that they produce a high quality, healthy food source that is gentle on the environment and sustainable, and helps to provide important export income for the country.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, Bonnin Hermanos has been selected to receive the BID International Star Award for Quality for 2015 at the convention in Geneva.
About BID and the International Star Award for Quality:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries.
The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level.
Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.