Brasil Foods plans to build a processed food plant in the United Arab Emirates.

The Brazilian food group said yesterday (11 August) that it plans to invest around US$120m in the venture.

The plant will make products including breaded items, hamburgers, pizzas and marinated processed foods for the retail and foodservice channels.

It will have a production capacity of around 80 thousand tons per year, with operations expected to begin by the end of 2012.

Brasil Foods said that the Middle East is “strategic” to its “internationalisation” and would help the company build overseas and open new markets.

The Middle East accounts for some 31.8% of Brasil Foods’ exports, and the company said the Sadia brand is rated “top of mind in various countries in the region”.

The announcement came as the company reported a sharp increase in first-half profits, with net income up 279% to BRL881m (US$541.1m). EBITDA was up 51% at BRL1.6bn. Net sales rose 16% to BRL12.3bn.

The company said the numbers were “were strongly supported by a significant operating performance, especially on the export front, as well as reaping the benefits from the capture of synergies”. 

The merger that formed Brasil Foods was approved on 13 July, and the company said that it is implementing a plan for “adopting best practices which will serve as parameters for guiding the company’s operations”. It expects these steps to capture the synergies from the merger, which should result in annual savings of BRL500m from 2012.

“We are now free to advance our business. Gains in scale and scope are already taking place,” vice president for finance, administration and investor relations Leopoldo Saboya said. “The strengthening of the company’s global footprint will bring significant benefits for the Brazilian economy in terms of generation of taxes, employment and income.”

Shares in the company were up 5.31% to $18.15 on the NYSE at the market’s close yesterday.