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WH Group eyeing beef, poultry sectors in U.S., Europe

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China’s WH Group, which owns Smithfield Foods, is seeking out opportunities to expand in both the U.S. and European meat sectors, Reuters recently reported.

In an exclusive interview, Ken Sullivan, chief executive officer of Smithfield, told Reuters he is interested in the potential of diversifying into other meats to broaden the company’s product portfolio.

“We’re a food company,” he said. “No one said that we’re strictly a pork company.”

Luis Chein, director of investor relations for WH Group, confirmed to Reuters that it is looking into beef and poultry in the U.S. and Europe but declined to name specific targets.

He also declined to provide an expansion timeline or how much the company is planning to spend.

Nonetheless, Chein told Reuters that it is an attractive time to enter the beef business since China is expected to resume imports of U.S. beef in mid-July after a nearly 14-year ban.

“For us, the next step to develop our business is to consider other sources of animal protein,” Chein told Reuters.

Chein said WH Group would prefer to buy assets such as slaughterhouses and processing plants in the beef sector and would consider all types of operations on the poultry side, adding that the company sees big room for growth in beef and poultry consumption in China.

WH Group purchased Smithfield in 2013 for $4.7 billion.

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