By Julian Madeley

NOBODY should have the misconception that Brazil cannot produce to the highest standards.

That was the conclusion the Nuffield Poultry Group after its eight-day study tour of Brazil.

The tour focused on the production and processing of eggs and poultry meat in Sao Paulo state.

Processing businesses are investing heavily to keep pace with customer demands.

Many are already supplying the Japanese market, which is characterised by customer demands in excess of those found in the EU.

Brazil is the worlds second largest exporter of poultry meat, and the factors providing competitive advantage here are the same for the egg industry.

Finished feed costs are less than half UK levels, making use of domestic maize and non-GM soya, and high-quality labour is plentiful and cheap.

Other inputs such as genetics and equipment are identical to those available in the UK.

Brazil has enormous potential and hosts 420 of the worlds top 500 companies, taking advantage of the latest technology.

Since the Real Plan of 1995 the economy has stabilised, with inflation falling from a peak of 40% per month to a forecast 7% per annum for 2001, and despite high interest rates, the country is highly industrialised in many areas.

It is true that, like many countries, Brazil has problems.

Some may point to fewer restrictions and lower costs associated with welfare and use of the environment. But businesses there have the motivation and capability of meeting the highest level of customer demands.

The group was met with an outstanding level of openness, cooperation and friendship, and left with enormous respect for the people and industries of this South American giant.

Businesses in the UK should not just see Brazil as a threat, but as a source for trading partnerships and working relationships to the advantage of both countries.

A bigger threat to our industries is unwillingness to change or to accept that quality is achievable outside Britain.