By Audrey Hambright
In April, the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) at Kansas State University was host to two representatives from Jerónimo
Martins, a Portugal-based international group operating in food distribution, food manufacturing and service sectors. Jerónimo Martins is one of the oldest retail groups in Portugal, opening its’ first store in the late 1700s.
Domingos Bastos, agricultural development director and José Fraga, meat supply manager/animal production area development director of the international group traveled to view the American feedlot industry firsthand with intentions of growing their existing business model.
Currently, the group purchases beef directly from the producer and contracts with a local processor before the final product is delivered to the store. The supermarket chain, Pingo Doce, has more than 300 stores in Portugal, 2,000 in Poland and is expanding to Colombia at this time.
The group aims to build its own feedlot to increase the quality and consistency of the product it is providing consumers. Prior to its interest in facilitating its own feedlot, it worked with producers to obtain Angus genetics from Ireland to crossbreed within its herds to achieve higher finishing weights.
During the first two days of their visit, Jorge Simroth,BCI graduate student, Dr. Steve Bartle, research director and Dr. Dave Rethorst, outreach director, guided Bastos and Fraga through both “grow” and “finish” feedlots around the state. In addition to viewing the different types of feeding practices, Bastos and Fraga were able to visit with feedyard managers at each of the stops as well.
“They were excited to learn about the backgrounding scenario of feeding,” Simroth said. “They are now aware of a more efficient process to get high quality beef, and that’s what they’re trying to do there.”
According to Bartle, the BCI was also able to show them the difference between a mono-slope confinement barn and open dirt pens layout at a feedlot.
“Our goal was to show them the variety of production practices that we have,” Bartle said.
Concluding what Simroth considered an impressionable visit to a few Kansas feedlots, he guided the guests on a tour of the K-State campus before they began their return trip to Portugal.