The Atlanta, GA-based Global Protein Group LLC (GPG) announced a joint venture with Corol Agroindustrial to build a slaughter and meat packing facility in Brazil. Corol, an agribusiness co-op in the southern state of Paraná, employs 800 people in growing and merchandising small grains, corn, oilseeds, coffee, sugarcane and oranges.

GPG was formed in 2003 by North American investors aiming to establish, develop and manage ag-based assets in South America. Corol officials say half the capital for the meatpacking venture will be raised through foreign investment and the rest through bank financing.

Corol plans to build the $40 million (US) plant in 2006, initially slaughtering 500 steers/day and expanding to 2,000 by 2009, with production to be exported to the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. GPG is currently operating in Uruguay, exporting beef to the U.S., Canada, China and Europe.

U.S. and Canadian firms currently can't import fresh or frozen beef from Brazil due to foot-and-mouth disease restrictions. Last spring, imports of “thermally-treated” beef imports (the only imports allowed from Brazil) were temporarily suspended after a USDA investigation into Brazil's meat inspection system found inconsistencies in food safety protocol in selected export-certified meat plants.